Chicago Boyz

                 
 
 
What Are Chicago Boyz Readers Reading?
 

 
  •   Enter your email to be notified of new posts:
    Loading
  •   Problem? Question?
  •   Contact Authors:

  • CB Twitter Feed
  • Blog Posts (RSS 2.0)
  • Blog Posts (Atom 0.3)
  • Incoming Links
  • Recent Comments

    • Loading...
  • Authors

  • Notable Discussions

  • Recent Posts

  • Blogroll

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Author Archive

    Did the Computers Report or Structure Voting Results?

    Posted by Ginny on 17th November 2020 (All posts by )

    My brother sent this link to three engineers from three different party backgrounds who have examined the patterns in Michigan precincts. They seem quite sure that an algorithm has been applied to the precincts that were more heavily Republican; the pattern in these precincts are remarkably similar. They seem to have had some experience not only with computers but with voting machines (one is an election commissioner and another had run for office).

    I remember my awe years ago at Shannon Love’s analysis of arguments in the Lancet and how interesting and insightful his analysis was. I have learned nothing since then, so can’t judge these men’s methods but their graphs do appear to make their points – ones that fit my intuitions but perhaps it is merely my hopes.

    I would like to know what the many more knowledgeable people here think about their presentation; it is longish and could be smoother, but I’m thankful for their effort to reach people like me and found it absorbing.

    Posted in Elections, Human Behavior, Politics, Statistics | 47 Comments »

    If Biden’s (and Buttigieg’s and. . . ) Description of Trump’s Incompetence Bothers You

    Posted by Ginny on 2nd November 2020 (All posts by )

    “Top Twenty Lies about Trump’s Response to the Covid-19 Pandemic” helped organize my thinking. I knew Demo charges against Trump’s treatment of the pandemic were not just emotional and unpersuasive, but often wrong. And it bothered me (undermined trust in my memories) that so many appeared to buy those charges. One of the Nevertrumper ads literally (and many in campaign speeches implicitly) laid every Covid death in America at Trump’s feet, a fearmongering demagoguery on the level of their race baiting. But I couldn’t always remember the actual misreporting or misunderstanding.

    Through the spring my husband and I had listened to Trump’s press conferences, waiting for the nightly news to begin. Lately, I hear statements of Trump’s arrogance, lack of empathy, incompetence. That wasn’t how I remembered it. Of course he blustered – that’s his way. But neither he nor the scientists were omniscient or even consistent: the usefulness of masks was just one of many turns and reversals. But then, China had not been forthcoming or even honest. The curve did flatten, respirators were created – harnessing the natural ingenuity of American business. What worked and what didn’t as far as treatments – often attacked politically – slowly proved themselves. We all started taking zinc and vitamin d. Older people were given more protection.

    The allegations seemed wrong, sometimes I could remember why and sometimes not. This gave me more faith in my often deceptive memory. Instapundit linked it. So I just wanted to say thank you and pass it on.

    Posted in Health Care, Miscellaneous, Politics, Trump | 10 Comments »

    Apropos of nothing, really: The Browder Boys

    Posted by Ginny on 31st October 2020 (All posts by )

    Jay Nordlinger’s National Review article has stuck in my mind – an interesting family history of curious (in both senses) people and how complicated man and his loves and choices are. I know nothing about math and little about American communists, who seemed (and seem) to me quite foreign.

    But the Browders were broad in their abilities: perhaps the effect on of Russia and America, communism and western values, might draw observations, especially if readers are more familiar than I with their lives. Bill Browder “goes around the world campaigning for “Magnitsky acts” — laws in honor of the murdered lawyer” who had represented him, battling Putin who was behind Magnitsky’s persecution and death. His grandfather is probably not a familiar name today, but he represented the Communist Party in America for decades and was famous for what we may (I’m sure my parents who were more his contemporaries would) see as absurd, the concise argument: “Communism is 20th-century Americanism.” The generation between – three sons – were remarkable American mathematicians.

    The complexity of human nature? What we learn from our parents and what we believe and how we rebel? How remarkable talents are handed down and how some families are able to cultivate those talents? How math can deliver real answers and politics become fuzzy as consequences, empirical evidence, is ignored? Oh, well, at least this may entertain as we await Tuesday’s verdict on our culture – perhaps a temporary one but important nonetheless.

    Posted in Anti-Americanism, Business, Capitalism, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, History, Human Behavior, Miscellaneous, National Security, Political Philosophy, Science | 11 Comments »

    “Collecting Democrat votes one dead stiff at a time”

    Posted by Ginny on 31st October 2020 (All posts by )

    Yesterday at lunch a friend was circulating an e-mail her friend had taken as she’d run errands in Houston. Great video: hearse following Biden bus. Some overreaction (Can we stand four years with a humorless party in power? And how do they intend to use their power – to stop laughter and flags flying?)

    I’ve long thought that the Babylon Bee does more to keep up spirits about next Tuesday than the greatest stump speech or endorsement.

    Posted in Big Government, Elections, Humor, Texas, The Press | 9 Comments »

    The Politicization of Yelp

    Posted by Ginny on 14th October 2020 (All posts by )

    I noted recently the steps of twentieth century nations toward the abyss of totalitarianism; these were summed up in a Firing Line conversation with Richard Pipes.

    First, clear the stage for a one party state, then give omnipotent power within the state to the political police, and finally enforce that power with deadly terror and “re-education” camps.

    The last decades revealed the United States is not immune to the use of “political police” when the swamp – bureaucracy, media – is aligned with the executive, breeding a “one party state” (whether of city, state or country): governmental oppression of Tea Party and religious groups – using the great power of the IRS as well as EPA, OSHA, etc. – or arresting a hapless filmmaker after Benghazi, etc. Power changed, and the Russia hoax demonstrated swamp power alone could baffle and thwart executive and legislative power, leaving them at the mercy of institutions they theoretically led and funded.

    Then, in the petri dish of covid isolation and a presidential election summer, “woke” power grew. A friend e-mailed Yelp’s classification punishment for establishments bucking Portland’s politics. The service seemed useful if easily weighted, but some anarchists perceptively saw its potential as a map to bring the unwoke into line through violence. Clearly Rioters Trash Portland. . . But Black Owner Just Got the Last Word was the logical consequence. Of course, Yelp, as many grander and prouder institutions before it, lost credibility – but that was intended. Only the party, eventually, remains. Still, real men, real Americans, lead:

    But Jackson will have the last word. Not only are people of good will planning to eat at his restaurant as never before, but he told Fox News that the attack “solidified my Trump vote. I’m done with this weakness and we need some real strong leadership.”

    However the next paragraph is also telling; men like Jackson are fewer as the models and narratives that give us courage are destroyed as well:

    Day of Ragers also targeted the Oregon Historical Society, bashing windows and ripping out several historical items, leaving them trashed on the street.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Civil Liberties, Education, Elections, Human Behavior, Libertarianism, Political Philosophy, Politics, USA | 4 Comments »

    “We Live Here Together” – Comments?

    Posted by Ginny on 26th September 2020 (All posts by )

    Executive Order on Combating Race & Sex Stereotyping

    A taste

    Context: “From the battlefield of Gettysburg to the bus boycott in Montgomery and the Selma-to-Montgomery Marches, heroic Americans have valiantly risked their lives to ensure that their children would grow up in a Nation living out its creed, expressed in the Declaration of Independence.”

    Descriptions of critical race theory workshops subsidized by the government.

    Its position:

    But training like that discussed above perpetuates racial stereotypes and division and can use subtle coercive pressure to ensure conformity of viewpoint. Such ideas may be fashionable in the academy, but they have no place in programs and activities supported by Federal taxpayer dollars. Research also suggests that blame-focused diversity training reinforces biases and decreases opportunities for minorities.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Academia, Anti-Americanism, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Conservatism, Culture, Current Events, Human Behavior, Politics | 15 Comments »

    Contracts Breeched: Freedom Cancelled

    Posted by Ginny on 10th September 2020 (All posts by )

    A previous post mentioned trust and the responsibilities of government to keep up their share of their contract to provide safety and the kind of order property rights demand. Such trust comes easily when our respect is internalized. Benjamin Franklin and Jonathan Edwards both spoke of teaching the young “virtuous habits”. In the America in which I grew up that kind of respect was internalized – and not just in towns of 500 in the Great Plains – Thomas Sowell talks of his boyhood in Harlem with such affection. This too, is critical of the broken contract of so many politicians with their citizens surrounded by the rubble of riots.

    In Property and Freedom, Richard Pipes examines “property” in terms of land, but also money and goods; what is “proper to man” – including his inalienable rights. I’ve found his journey to follow the historical development of different societies’ definitions of property and man’s relation to it interesting.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Book Notes, Current Events, Economics & Finance, Political Philosophy | 10 Comments »

    Have we been played?

    Posted by Ginny on 3rd September 2020 (All posts by )

    Somebody phoned Rush Limbaugh: the listener posited that Democrats were in league with the Chinese, sharing a desire to take Trump down. He gently moved on, noting he’d never seen proof. But the last months have reminded us that just because you are paranoid doesn’t mean someone’s not out to get you. I do feel played – about Covid, about Russiagate, about police brutality, about, well, a lot at this point. I suspect it is simple: the media is dominated by those wearing blinders, whose reality is a narrow sliver of the world. Of course, it would be nice if such heavyweights as Dianne Feinstein and Biden didn’t owe so much to the Chinese. But then there’s a lot of Chinese money and a lot of Congressional graft – a corrupt swamp isn’t necessarily a treasonous one. (Was Hillary’s sale of the nation’s plutonium a conspiracy or just the usual Clinton graft? Was Brennan someone who plotted or just closed his eyes?)

    This summer’s incidents are enlarged versions of Ferguson’s riots and the smearing of Zimmerman. For three months Portland has been ablaze; literally hundreds of police have been attacked and will bear the scars of this summer’s work. Dozens have died amidst the riots and many more indirectly as these affected the morale and morals, the aggression of mobs and hesitancy of police. Minneapolis was torn apart, but so were many cities; his funeral was a multi-day spectacle moving through three towns. I shared with most Americans revulsion at the face of the officer whose knee seemed pushed into Floyd’s neck, calmly staring out as he kept Floyd down.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Current Events, Human Behavior, Politics, Trump | 24 Comments »

    Parallels?

    Posted by Ginny on 31st August 2020 (All posts by )

    Lately we’ve become interested in Richard Pipes, the Russian scholar. In an old You Tube Firing Line, we found him discussing his 1990 The Russian Revolution.

    The intro by Kinsley concisely sums up Lenin’s “innovations”: to Pipes, the Russian revolution was “arguably the most important event of the 20th century,” because its acts would be copied by later dictators – Hitler, Mao, etc. First, clear the stage for a one party state, then give omnipotent power within the state to the political police, and finally enforce that power with deadly terror and “re-education” camps.

    Pipes is not confident about the 90s: a “free” Russia would be difficult; he notes that only 20% of Russians thought the October Revolution was a good thing and only 14% had full trust in government. Purpose, energy, trust are necessary to navigate huge change and certainly found a democracy; razing the past is not a good way to move into the future, but the Russian past is poisonous. Instead of energy and purpose, he saw apathy and immorality (my impression was that a deeply rooted cynicism expressed in humor but felt bitterly characterized communist states). He argues Russia lacked human spirit, morale, and morality. (Perhaps the Gramscian effect on Russia of 70 years of Soviet culture.)

    The leap.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Book Notes, Current Events, Europe, History, Human Behavior, Leftism, Politics, Predictions, Society | 3 Comments »

    So, we drive on the right and our homes are our castles – or not

    Posted by Ginny on 16th August 2020 (All posts by )

    Freedom is greatest within restraints and boundaries. Sure, on some slippery slope with no constraining adverbs, this seems contradictory, but we recognize daily that minimal, enforceable and enforced, laws provide predictability, enable true freedom. Would my freedom be enlarged without the first limit society imposes as I leave my house: driving on the right? Seinfeld’s Kramer attempted to “free” the lanes but caused chaos. I cheerfully accept it because it simplifies more than limits; I go over my grocery list or laugh with Limbaugh; someone more productive might create a poem or solve a physics problem. Without limits, we would be on guard, slow to a crawl, choose a tank, hoping, as my brothers put it, to be the shearer and not the shearee in an inevitable collision. I remember a homesick Iranian engineer telling us still he didn’t want to return – here drivers stop at red lights, even alone at night; there, every intersection was a free for all. Too much order suffocates but with too little concentration is difficult.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Current Events, Human Behavior, Law Enforcement, Politics, Urban Issues | 31 Comments »

    Lamar Alexander on Statues

    Posted by Ginny on 24th June 2020 (All posts by )

    A few years ago I started considering fiction, non-fiction, speeches, movies in subjective terms: some made me simply “happy”; some didn’t. This is probably a function of sentimental aging; maybe I let my guard down to accept the hokey. But cynicism tops everything when we are rebels without a cause and perhaps I finally left that behind. Certainly, it is more difficult for me to appreciate a Bergman movie than in the sixties.

    Of course happiness is part identification – in being an American (or Texan or Nebraskan or woman). But it also comes from a telling religious narrative. Warmth came from narratives or axioms or theories or gestures that seemed quintessentially human. We are aware of our broken nature – all of our broken natures – but we see an action prompted by our better angels – heroism, love, loyalty, generosity, nobility, strength. We are moved by the sailor at the gate at Corpus Christi, the generosity of music sung to the elderly during covid quarantines. Plenty of works seem inspired by our worse angels – cynical, bitter, moving into nihilism: paintings from the the thirties in Germany, harsh preachy modern art simmering with “Gramscian” arguments. In short, the ugly: graffiti on a statue, violent destruction of the great Shaw statue, the ignorance of the mob. But yesterday, I turned on the tv and paused at Lamar Alexander in mid-argument on the removing of statues.

    I felt, well, happy & filled by the richness of human nature he described. I wonder about his effect. The objective, thoughtful rational comments, which make this blog so attractive, might be a bit subjective here. What does this and other moments in the last few weeks make you feel? Does he disgust you or do you feel warmth from it? What do our feelings mean? Some of the best lit crit begins with the feeling of the reader and then bores down on it, trying to analyze what prompted the feeling, what the feeling meant in a broader and deeper way than just one person’s response.

    Thanks to Grurray, a link comes in below. I had found the transcrit and it lies below the fold; a border state statesman’s statement.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Biography, Culture, Current Events, History, Human Behavior, Miscellaneous, Society, USA | 10 Comments »

    Draining the Swamp

    Posted by Ginny on 21st June 2018 (All posts by )

    Romney’s greatest charm was his history of taking a chainsaw to businesses and setting them on their feet. Those virtues are not always apparent in a campaign nor necessarily popular. Mick Mulvaney, backed by a businessman who was appalled at the waste in government (as almost all sentient beings are but someone that has planned large projects more clearly), is doing what I for one voted for Romney to do.

    Simplifying permits, narrowing focus clears the brush, then we can build. The enlarging of bureaucracies encourage flakey, dishonest, bullshit laws that we don’t follow – that was Obama’s plan and we see it at its worst in the immigration fiasco, it works well to produce fear, malaise, and arbitry enforcement. The Home Land secretary put it best when she asked Congress if they had thought about the road they were going down in criticizing her for enforcing the laws they had made. Extraneous laws & large bureaucracies stunt growth, use up energy and frustrate. The result is malaise and a nation with less and less “trust”.
    [Note: rewritten – parts unconnected – the commenters connected them but I realize it was rude of me. Great link! I added a second)

    Posted in Current Events, Immigration, Organizational Analysis, Trump | 2 Comments »

    Ugly Identity Politics and Ugly Language

    Posted by Ginny on 2nd June 2018 (All posts by )

    Inspired by a lovely photo of motherly affection and play, Samantha Bee diminished Ivanka Trump with ugly remarks. Such simplification comes from an ugly perspective, characteristic of the Hollywood that applauded Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, and Roman Polanski, its politics represented by Ted Kennedy and Bill Clinton. Power is all – in boardroom, bedroom, Congress. Bee’s offensive comments were the quintessential vision of “progressives” and post-modernism – power the essence of any relationship, category the essence of identity.

    Raymond, in Gramscian Damage notes that “in the 1930s members . . . got instructions from Moscow to promote non-representational art so that the US’s public spaces would become arid and ugly.” Ugliness begets nihilism begets decline begets suicide. Beautiful (productive, generous, transcendent) ideas are seldom couched in ugly words. The beauty of the individual – a portrait domestic or heroic – is replaced by spiritless representations of the group – the “worker,” “farmer.” Few visions are less likely to produce felicity than seeing familial, parental, spousal relationships in terms of power and “category.” (Nor ones more likely to destroy these bonds.)
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Current Events, Humor, Miscellaneous, That's NOT Funny, The Press, Trump | 20 Comments »

    Nationalism and Schroeder

    Posted by Ginny on 17th April 2018 (All posts by )

    Trump’s inaugural argued: “We all bleed the same red blood of patriots.” It wasn’t an original thought or even expression, but spoke to our nationalism – our pride in others’ sacrifice for both the heightened values of our early documents and the mundane, daily values (bourgeoisie perhaps) of the marketplace and the free press. Americans see nationalism as a cohering force – one that joins Manhatten, New York to Manhatten, Kansas; the New England Puritans with the Southern planters in our defining war and Italian immigrant with Boston Brahmin in WW II.

    Or at least that was the culture of my youth – made up of a village schoolhouse, 40’s movies on television and 50’s novels. But it isn’t just that it wasn’t bad (of course it had limitations) but that it understood some of the big ideas embodied in our habits and language. Okay, so maybe I’m becoming sentimental. But we can see what happens when leaders denigrate nationalism – the malaise of the 8 years of Obama, the nihilism that rejects history and dignity. Of course, our history contains venality and even evil, but also heroism and sacrifice. It helps us, individually, become more of what we can be because we have the idea of a “good” citizen, neighbor within us. Most of all, those documents gave us something to reach toward – and if we may never actually get our hands around that ideal, trying is a good thing.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Anti-Americanism, Culture, Germany, USA | 13 Comments »

    Maybe I’m Whistling Past the Graveyard but I don’t think so

    Posted by Ginny on 13th March 2018 (All posts by )

    Instapundit links to an article about Kasich’s education plan. The Never Trumpers keep arguing in The Weekly Standard that Trump has all the traits of an authoritarian. Well, perhaps. Sure he says he’d like the power of a Chinese leader – so did Obama as I remember. And he can bully a bit. But these warnings are amidst articles on de Vos’s devolution of power in the Education Department or Pruitt’s in the environmental area or . . . throwing DACA back to Congress, for God’s sake. Well it never hurts to be wary but we could stay in touch with reality. This is like the Russian collusion – if he were colluding why in the hell would he open Alaskan oil drilling? I still can’t take all of his speeches & wince at his twitters, but at least he understands that nationalism is something that should be drawing us together – not pulling us apart (at least historic nationalism). And he’s funny.

    Posted in Big Government, Trump | 13 Comments »

    Square your shoulders, stand up straight: Only Take What You Deserve

    Posted by Ginny on 25th February 2018 (All posts by )

    An interesting history.

    Posted in Crony Capitalism, Current Events, Miscellaneous, Society | 17 Comments »

    Further Musings prompted by Sgt. Mom

    Posted by Ginny on 7th December 2017 (All posts by )

    Another Minnesotan, whose reputation like Keillor’s is pretty tawdry, seems about to be pushed from the Senate. Well, I am not all that sorry. Franken is reputed to be truly obnoxious. I was appalled by his posturing during the questioning of Gorsuch; his first election was shady. But Minnesotans re-elected him. The willingness of the Senate Democrats to discard him may say something about his general unpleasantness but probably a good deal more about their political calculations – recording preening, virtue signaling statements for use later.

    Given his colleagues’ demands, we might remember the first came from Gillibrand. This is the woman who tied herself firmly to the Clintons, both of whose actions toward women were far more despicable than anything Franken has been charged with; on the other hand, she was quite willing to destroy the accused and comfort the accuser in what turned out (as any mature person expected) a hoax (or delusion) by a drama queen with mental problems, mattress babe. She dealt cynically and opportunistically with a girl who needed counseling a good deal more than a seat at Obama’s “State of the Union” address.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Bioethics, Civil Society, Current Events, Human Behavior, Politics | 24 Comments »

    What Has Changed – and What Hasn’t?

    Posted by Ginny on 21st November 2017 (All posts by )

    When historians consider the 20th century as it turned into the 21st, what will they find unique. I’m looking forward to others’ opinions. What are deep and permanent changes? What are minor and transient ones? I’ll throw out my opinion, though it isn’t original; Henry Adams posited it as the last century began.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Americas, Environment, History, Human Behavior, USA | 31 Comments »

    Discursive Comments Suggested by the Sex life of Judge Moore

    Posted by Ginny on 12th November 2017 (All posts by )

    Sexual predation is real but the potential for another day care scandal – ask the Duke lacrosse team or the frat at Virginia – lies in he said/she said incidents with a political or sexual factor. Accusations encourage prurience and self-righteousness. But often neither the he nor the she lies; if children are vulnerable to suggestion, no less are adults whose perspective from forty years is hazy. We all like plots and prefer to see our selves more positively than others might. Deviations from a truth unknowable today are less rhetorical tricks than a natural desire to create favorable narratives.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Current Events, Feminism, Human Behavior, Media, Politics | 30 Comments »

    To Save the Union

    Posted by Ginny on 14th August 2017 (All posts by )

    Before the Civil War, the two sides often read different authors, saw different newspapers, read different novels. Some northern works were not easily available in the south and the levels of literacy differed. Of course, today, all is open. We choose to narrow our options: a Fox listener is likely to be a Wall Street Journal reader who begins surfing with Instapundit. A CNN listener is more likely to read the NYTimes and check out HuffPost.

    So, we can speak to each other, but anyone listening to the rhythms of Obama and those of Trump, the voices of the average humanities teacher and of the dirty jobs guy, may well wonder if they would understand. (Though, of course, it is a perspective rather than position – Rowe and Victor Davis Hanson, as academically credentialed as they come, understand each other thoroughly.)

    Listening to Trump’s speech on Charlotte, I heard something reporters didn’t mention. The speech’s rhythms came from an emphasis we’ve heard before: in Trump’s inaugural, in Lincoln’s second inaugural – and blended them in Trump’s less rhythmical, less evocative but direct and emotion-driven voice. It lacks the distance and gravitas of Lincoln, but its purpose is similar.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Culture, Current Events, History, Human Behavior, Speeches, Trump | 40 Comments »

    Access, Access, Access

    Posted by Ginny on 3rd July 2017 (All posts by )

    “Access, Access, Access” Rick Perry repeated to Bret Baier. It seemed a grilled candidate’s non sequitur to Baier’s question: weren’t many Texans uninsured? But I was struck by its truth. Insurance is of little use if no doctors take it, no medicine is available, deductibles and premiums are unmanageable. Positive rights – to food, to medicine, to jobs – are not rights. The theory never stands up to experience.

    Perry’s run was brief; now, his task is encouraging access to energy – of all kinds. Trump seemed an example of excess – still is, I guess. But a nation not just energy independent but energy dominant is one empowered, free. And we can free others: a Europe not beholden to Russian oil is a healthier Europe. Neither Trump nor Perry invented fracking nor could Obama stop its success. But this administration respects it, clears the way for its natural flow.

    Access, access, access – how much does access to energy change our lives each day? How many are alive today because of access to energy forms unknown or at least unused 300 years ago? (Without air conditioning, I would have left my husband years ago. Then, again, he might have come with me.) Consider, though, the other extreme: we would be shocked to hear of elderly couples found frozen in the depth of winter, not uncommon in other times and places. How much more food is generated because of cheap energy? How broadly is food distributed?

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Americas, Energy & Power Generation, Entrepreneurship, Health Care, Human Behavior | 12 Comments »

    Is This Really the Ukraine?

    Posted by Ginny on 2nd May 2017 (All posts by )

    A few years ago, Timothy Snyder’s Bloodlands was both popular and esteemed. I found it an uncomfortable but powerful read. I mentioned it and two students – a Russian Jewish student whose grandfather had fought in the Russian army, been tortured in one of the Russian purges, but died loyal to Stalin and a student whose ancestors were from those borderlands ordered it. (My mention was cursory; it was after all American lit; both were hungry to know more about the obscure world of their ancestors.) I gave it to a son-in-law, who had heard Snyder discussing it with intensity and even despair. I can remember discussing passages with colleagues in philosophy and history – especially lies spoken and assented to as the truth stood (and died) before their eyes: families starved, Stalin argued, to sabotage Stalin. Snyder’s aim and success was to make that unreal world and its victims live. He eloquently countered the great arrogance of Stalin’s assumption (so often proved true) that a million deaths was merely a statistic. Of course it was futile – no one person can make millions live on a page. An intense experience to read, Snyder’s research must have truly looked into the abyss. Today, I tracked references at Chicagoboyz; several praised it. I haven’t read his later works. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Academia, Anglosphere, Anti-Americanism, Arts & Letters, Book Notes, Russia, Trump | 21 Comments »

    The Right Hand Side of the Menu

    Posted by Ginny on 20th January 2017 (All posts by )

    I’ve never understood people who don’t notice costs. Maybe it was because we didn’t have a lot of money when I was growing up, maybe it was bicycling around to deliver papers in the snow . . . but I don’t think so. My life wasn’t all that rough. I think it is good old Scottish common sense. It is sensible to assess price in terms of worth. Or as Franklin would see it – is the value of the time I spent earning that money a good exchange for the use or pleasure it provides. From different perspectives, this was what I thought when I set prices in my business and when I wander around a store, touching and thinking about that dress or dish.

    I’ve long wondered about D.C.’s ability to spend money. As a Kelly girl, I found state and federal offices squandered time in ways private businesses never did. We know the stories of lottery winners whose money is gone in half a year. I suspect someone who considers the lottery a good investment probably isn’t all that good at assessing worth, though they may be misled by winning.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Current Events, Customer Service, Trump | 12 Comments »

    Castro Dies

    Posted by Ginny on 26th November 2016 (All posts by )

    Many of you with closer ties to either diplomacy or Cuba/ns will have much more enlightened observations; here is Kimball’s.

    Personal: I was talking to my brother when he saw the caption on his quieted television; we thought about our youths: when we were growing up, my parents hosted a wise older man, a Cuban psychiatrist who was in the process of certifying himself at the local hospital. He’d known Castro (their plantations had neighbored). He spoke to my mother’s reading club of why he had fled, foreseeing the future. But 50 years have passed; Dr. Jones is either very old or gone. I doubt he saw that far into the future – I can’t imagine his despair if he had.

    Posted in Cuba, Current Events, Obits | 30 Comments »

    Nobels & Dylan

    Posted by Ginny on 15th October 2016 (All posts by )

    In the mid-sixties, Bob Dylan’s music was the soundtrack to our lives. Now, in 2016, he’ll receive a Nobel. In that half century he’s become central to later generations and in other ways. But between the years when “everyone” quoted Childs numbers and when the Beatles took America by storm, Dylan’s voice was important. The folk singer who lived upstairs in ’65 patterned his style – music, clothes, harmonicas – after Dylan, placing roses on the stage at Pershing when Dylan played Lincoln; another friend wrote poems filled with Dylan allusions, murmuring Mr. Tambourine Man. Dylan did Nashville Skyline; in Chicago, watching him on Johnny Cash, I began to love country: a less surreal, more seductive Dylan singing Lay Lady Lay. In 1975 Austin, newly married, we bought Blood on the Tracks, with “Shelter from the Storm”

    And in 2016, he will stand another stage. His website is workmanlike; in his mid seventies, his tours continue. The “News” section doesn’t (tonight) have the Nobel listed. It’s hard to put my memories of a man who seemed to speak for and to lost boys in the context of his (and our) maturity, of all those years and all his work between then and now. For me, he remains fixed in the past, mine is ambivalence and nostalgia, but that larger, longer public context: Washington Post; Wall Street Journal; New York Times.

    If Dylan didn’t touch your life, Sohrab Ahmari’s take on one who did might be worth comment. Seven years has produced a world a less smug and ahistorical vision would have foreseen.

    Discuss?

    Posted in Arts & Letters, Music, Personal Narrative, Poetry | 12 Comments »