About every 3 or 4 weeks, Peggy Noonan’s WSJ column has something worthwhile to say. The September 14 column was one of those times. Talking about Biden, she cites ‘Whatever it Takes’, Richard Ben Cramer’s history of the 1988 presidential campaign, which she says presages a great deal of what we observe each day of Mr. Biden, and it is suggestive of the origins of the Hunter Biden problems and allegations.
For one thing, Joe Biden has always been obsessed by real estate and fancy houses, and money was always an issue. On a house he would buy a few years into his first Senate term: “The house is gorgeous, an old du Pont mansion in the du Pont neighborhood called Greenville, outside Wilmington. It’s the kind of place a thousand Italian guys died building—hand-carved doorways, a curbing hand-carved grand staircase that Clark Gable could have carried a girl down, a library fit for a Carnegie. . . . And a ballroom—can’t forget the ballroom.” He bid more than he had, “but Biden never let money stand in the way of a deal. He got in the developer’s face and started talking—fast.” He got the house—he always got the houses—and thereafter scrambled to cover its cost.
He wanted it all and had a sharp eye for how to get it. There is a beautiful speech Cramer presents as Mr. Biden’s. He was sitting around a back yard in Wilmington with friends when his sons were young, and Mr. Biden asked, “Where’s your kid going to college?”
His friend said, “Christ, Joe! He’s 8 years old!” Another implied it wasn’t important.
“Lemme tell you something,” Mr. Biden says, with a clenched jaw. “There’s a river of power that flows through this country. . . . Some people—most people—don’t even know the river is there. But it’s there. Some people know about the river, but they can’t get in . . . they only stand at the edge. And some people, a few, get to swim in the river. All the time. They get to swim their whole lives . . . in the river of power. And that river flows from the Ivy League.”
If you do a quick search through the Lexican’s blog, you will see that I like to travel. And in addition to plane travel, Road Trips are right up there. I’d have to say when the opportunity arises I am like a house-bound dog who suddenly bolts out the front door when he sees it briefly open.
Actually, as a pure traveling experience, I would put road trips ahead of cross-country plane trips. Because for me, the journey is as fun as the destination. It’s the unexpected people and places along the way that add to the memories. From an interesting used book seller (with 100,000+ books) in rural Montana to an old Army buddy in Colorado Springs, they would not have been known but for a car drive.
For this drive, both the journey and the destination were exciting.
Cases that he discusses include municipal wi-fi projects, electronic medical records systems, and Covid testing.
In response to Bill’s presentation, Sophie @netcapgirl says:
it’s lowkey a shame because the origins of the digital era are rooted in a collaborative environment between government & industry (and academia) that are hard to imagine today. for instance, JC Licklider (instrumental in the computer revolution) held positions at ARPA, MIT & IBM
So what conclusions should we derive from this polarity?
Here’s an essay written by 17-year-old Ruby LaRoca, winner of a Free Press essay contest. There’s a lot in it, but I was particularly struck by this:
As I head into my final year of homeschooling, I often think about the dilemma in American education, which perhaps should be called the student crisis (it’s also a teacher crisis). Students and teachers are more exhausted and fragile than they used to be. But reducing homework or gutting it of substance, taking away structure and accountability, and creating boundless space for “student voices” feels more patronizing than supportive. The taut cable of high expectations has been slackened, and the result is the current mood: listlessness.
I like that phrase “the taut cable of high expectations.” It reminded me of something that Antoine de St-Exupery wrote, which I had previously cited in a post and had been thinking about referencing again.
In St-Ex’s unfinished novel Citadelle (published in English under the unfortunate title Wisdom of the Sands), the protagonist is the ruler of a fictional desert kingdom. One night, he goes to the prison in which a man who has been sentenced to death in the morning is being held. He muses that this man may well contain an inward beauty of some form–perhaps he should commute his sentence?…but goes on to justify his execution:
For by his death I stiffen springs which must not be permitted to relax.
The context in which I had been thinking of this passage was the present situation in San Francisco. Failure to enforce laws–while endlessly searching for ‘inward beauty’ in the perpetrators of a wide range of crimes–had resulted in a relaxation of those springs of which St-Exupery wrote.
Our society at present suffers from both the loosening of Ruby LaRocca’s ‘taut cables’…which act to pull people upward…and St-Exupery’s ‘springs’…which reduce the incidence of disastrous falls.