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miriam's ideas





Updated: 2018-04-23T08:35:34.803-04:00

 



Leaning on something

2018-04-13T14:40:49.897-04:00

You all know I broke my foot.  This led the doctors to give me various assistive devices, including a cane and a walker--not simultaneously, the walker came first.

  I can now report that walking with a cane makes you look ten years older.  Instantly, even if you have just undergone a facelift.  A walker adds another  ten years, plus the suspicion that you are either deaf or senile.  So people enunciate carefully, making sure you are looking them straight in the face.  Ugh!



What makes activists tick

2018-04-12T22:46:11.400-04:00

I can remember protests in the late sixties--we were protesting the Vietnam War then.  Lo and behold, the war ended, not necessarily because  of the protests.  But the protestors thought it was caused by them.  By God, it felt good.

  The cessation of the war made people hungry for more..  It was like a drug,  It gave them a sense of control.   People missed the excitement, the crowds, the festive air, the fresh air.  So everybody started protesting something, or everything, or nothing.

  The environment was the next Good Thing.  And, boy, did everybody crumble.  Nobody stood up for pollution.  It was a heady success.  We were reminded of that success every time we went to the store and nobody gave us a plastic bag.

  Lately, there has been some pushback, but the protesters chose their targets carefully.  If anyone protested the efforts for gun control, you could shut them up by telling them they had the blood of children on their hands.  It turned out, no-one wanted to kill a child.  Of course not!  But some people still wanted to keep their guns, the murderers!   Not that they had killed any children with them, or even any adults; they just refused to give up guns no matter how passionately the protesters argued. 

 



It's poetry month

2018-04-12T13:59:27.025-04:00

I've always liked this one.  I like gloomy poems.

Th' expense of spirit in a waste of shame
Is lust in action; and till action, lust
Is perjured, murd'rous, bloody, full of blame,
Savage, extreme, rude, cruel, not to trust,
Enjoyed no sooner but despisèd straight,
Past reason hunted; and, no sooner had
Past reason hated as a swallowed bait
On purpose laid to make the taker mad;
Mad in pursuit and in possession so,
Had, having, and in quest to have, extreme;
A bliss in proof and proved, a very woe;
Before, a joy proposed; behind, a dream.
    All this the world well knows; yet none knows well
    To shun the heaven that leads men to this hell.



My gofundme project

2018-04-08T22:13:05.761-04:00

The news of Andrew McCabe's Gofundme project upset me until I came to my senses.  The man is, like me, a retired civil servant who has only his pension to rely on.  How can he afford legal fees?  True, his wife has money, and they live in a multi-million dollar home, but the man says he needs money for legal fees and who am I, whose relative had to pay a lawyer $50,000 to get out of a contract, to doubt him.  Andy--if I may take the liberty of calling him that--is a good example of a retired civil servant making lemonade out of lemons.  He has inspired me to start my own gofundme scheme.

  Naturally, I want the money for a worthwhile cause.  I don't want diamonds or European travel or anything like that.  But, looking through the New York Times magazine, I came upon a project which would certainly improve my mental health--a luxury condo in Florida.  You see, it really snows very hard up here in Delaware, and my doctor has forbidden  me to shovel snow.  So far, my neighbors have helped me with this, but it is really not fair to them to have this extra burden.

  So it would improve the morale of the whole neighborhood if I were to spend the winter in Florida, leaving the snow to pile up in my driveway until the crocuses and daffodils come out.

  I know asking people for a luxury condo is a bit much.  The optics, you know.  So I wont ask for a luxury condo in Fort Lauderdale, which is what was advertised in the Times.  I'd be satisfied with a modest--but not too modest--little pied a terre on the West Coast, even as far north as the panhandle.  I think I will ask for $400,000 , $350,000 for the condo itself and $50,000 to furnish it. That seems eminently reasonable.  I will even pay the monthly fees and airfare to get from here to there.  I could raise a little money from airbnb to supplement my very modest  income.



You go, Pennsylvania!

2018-03-30T13:50:45.233-04:00

A Pennsylvania law that gives tax breaks to farms--and also golf courses and lavish private homes--is being criticized by the people who actually pay taxes.Supporters say Clean and Green has helped shield millions of acres of farms and other pristine lands from being turned into strip malls, warehouses and Levittowns. The lowered assessments, they say, are a bargain compared to the expense of development and the strains it places on schools, roads and public services. Backers also insist that any problematic properties represent a tiny portion of the lands enrolled.{snip) Under the program, qualifying properties — those with at least 10 contiguous acres or that generate $2,000 in farm sales annually — are assessed on what the land is worth as a working farm or woodlot, and not its value on the real estate market. State officials estimate that on average, that works out to a 50 percent reduction in assessment, though the numbers can be as dramatic as pennies on the dollar.The hardest hit communities were in rural school districts such as Northwestern Lehigh and Bangor Area. Last week, the presidents of each school board said they support the tax breaks for farmers, but feel it is unfair to the average taxpayer to provide them to mansion owners with large estates.“Somebody has found a loophole in my humble opinion,” said Bangor Area’s Michael Goffredo. “You just got a bargain somebody else isn’t getting.”Like others, Northwestern Lehigh’s Willard Dellicker called Clean and Green a well-intentioned law producing unintended results.“Some leniency is needed for farmers, but I don’t believe that we should be giving millionaires property tax reductions because they own 10 acres to get into Clean and Green,” Dellicker said.Why do they want to prevent development of land that would lead to more young couples owning their own homes  and raising children who would attend local schools?  There's an erroneous belief in this country that the population is too large and that people should avoid having children.  In fact, the population is becoming grayer.  We need children and young people to support us old people who are on social security.  Also to power the factories, to invent and create and think new things.  Look at Delaware--a potentially nice area of the country which is covered with hospitals, nursing homes, and senior living facilities.  Is that what we want?  Nursing homes or schools, which do you prefer?  Because you can't have both. [...]



Summer soldiers and sunshine patriots

2018-03-26T23:36:57.451-04:00

It was a fine day for a parade Saturday, and the summer soldiers and their buddies the sunshine patriots made a fine display all over the country.

  I wonder how big the turnout would have been if we had been experiencing some of the weather we have been getting lately: snow, high winds, hail, and power outages?  But none of these happened, and if they had, the turnout would have been close to zero.  There was no price to be paid for protesting in the fine weather, aided by some  corporations who, as Kruschev said, would sell us the rope to hang ourselves.  Evil, evil corporations!  Or maybe just stupid, or cowardly like the Broward Cowards who didn't want to enter the school while the shooting was going on--man, you could have got killed out there! Better to hang out behind your cars until the danger has passed.  First responders, indeed!



Advice you can use: How to get anemic

2018-03-21T16:43:00.451-04:00

When I was a kid I always fantasized about being able to eat anything I wanted to, whenever I wanted to.  My fantasies in those days ran to Wonder Bread--which my family would never buy, preferring challah or rye--non-Kosher lunch meats, and Heath bars.  I offer these memories to those who think that kids would eat healthy if you just let them choose what they would like to eat.

  However, in the middle of my journey, I found myself alone.  No one to cook for.  No one to share meals with, unless I wanted to.  So I started eating anything.  Or everything.  If I had a pound of macaroni salad, I would eat as much of it as I chose, maybe the whole thing.  Or Brussels sprouts with chestnuts and lots of butter.  Hard boiled eggs.  A baked potato, or two.  Yogurt with fruit.  Fruit alone, some days, in the summer when fruit was bountiful and available.  Meat was a great nuisance to make, the stove got dirty, and I had to turn on the oven fan.

  I don't want to exaggerate, I sometimes but not too often, made myself a nourishing soup or stew, generally in the crockpot.  I figured it would even out, somehow. 

  Then I found out I was anemic.  Now I have to take iron pills, which you can't take with meals or with other medications.  This means I pop one in my mouth when I think of it.  Or whenever.  This averages out to three iron pills a week, because I am usually either eating or taking pills, instead of the two a day I am supposed to take.

  Instead, I make healthy meals and have to clean the stove frequently, like a normal person.



Short memory

2018-03-19T14:52:10.969-04:00

The Florida school shooting has raised everyone's consciousness about gun control.  That's because school kids are appealing victims.  It's great theater when kids walk out of school for 17 (get the symbolism?) minutes all over the country.  These appealing youngsters are featured on television news, looking young, vulnerable, and as if they know what they are talking about.  Which they don't.

Much is made of the police officers' caution, or cowardice, in staying in the safe haven of the parking lot, hiding behind cars for good measure.  I, too deplore it.  I mean, what are we paying them for?  They are supposed to keep the children safe.

But did anyone notice that when a gunman shot up a gay nightclub, with the shooter actually on the phone to authorities, that it took them almost three hours to arrive? Perhaps  they thought that by then the gunman might be out of bullets?  I guess these gay men and their friends and families were not as cute as the Parkland high schoolers, although they were just as dead.

There was the usual formulaic handwringing, but nobody's heart was really in it, and it blew over quickly.

  I guess it's really about the children.



Eating for beginners

2018-02-26T09:45:55.652-05:00

My mother liked to make an opera--soap or grand, as the occasion demanded--out of little things.  For instance, she thought my brother was in imminent danger of starving because he had skinny arms and legs.  So she fed him at every opportunity.  After he had eaten dinner, if he left so much as a pea on his plate, she would take him to the drive-in and stuff him with French fries like someone stuffing a Strasburg goose.  This continued until the kid weighed 200 pounds, at 5'7".  She then started harping at him for being too fat.

 I was a fussy eater.  I liked hot chocolate, but if there was a layer of skim on the top of the cup, I not only would not eat it, I  ran out of the room screaming.  I wouldn't eat anything made with mayonnaise, because I couldn't identify the ingredients.  My father believed in stern discipline on the food front.  He made me sit at the table until I had consumed enough to satisfy him, or until bedtime, whichever came first.  Long dreary hours (probably only minutes, but they seemed like hours) passed as I stared at the congealed fat on my now tepid plate, without eating it of course. Mercifully, bedtime freed me.

  Then there was the morning milk.  Dad believed that milk was good for children, particularly at breakfast.  I could not, or would not, drink cold milk in the morning.  If I was made to drink it, I usually threw up.  Mealtimes were full of drama at our house.



How the Anglo-Saxons saved my life, with the help of the Bexley, OH library

2018-02-24T13:43:39.087-05:00

Of course I'm an Anglophile, and have been since the age of 13.  That was how old I was when I read my first book by P G Wodehouse and discovered the wonderful world of country estates, servants, and the Drones Club.  What a great place to live!  Even at that age, I knew it was too good to be true, but that in no way detracted from its charm.  Fortunately, that was in the old days, when the Bexley  Library had not discarded any books, so I was able to read a dozen volumes by the Master.

  And then I discovered Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, to be exact.  I loved that book so much that when I first finished reading it I went back to the opening and read it again.  Country houses!  Balls!   Gossip!   But it wasn't just the setting, I loved Jane Austen's style.  These two authors taught me to write, taught me what a great writing style could bring to a book, and got me on the road to being a lifelong Anglophile and a prodigious reader.   

  I'm not kidding when I said they saved my life, either.  I was a miserable kid, attending a new school, and two years younger than my classmates.  My parents were getting divorced, not that either of them mentioned the topic, but my father's total absence from our new house was noticeable even to an unobservant child.  I also didn't have the clothes the popular girls wore.  Even my shoes were not quite right. 

  In addition to this, I was so shy that I dreaded anyone even looking at me.  Needless to say, I had no friends.  My classmates scared me.  I hated that school with an intensity that frightens me to this day.  Once I went away to college, I never walked down the street where the high school was located.  I never wanted to be in Central Ohio again, and mostly I haven't been.

  I buried my head in P G Wodehouse and Jane Austen.  When I was in their world I was released from the realities of my own.  I don't know how I would have gotten through high school without them.  But I am eternally grateful to the library for making my continued existence possible.

   




I knew the Jewish Conspiracy would come up...

2018-01-30T15:41:54.344-05:00

and by god, it has.   The left, of course, has given Israel the back of its hand for years, yammering on about the poor Palestinians.  But now anti-semitism has cropped up on what can be described as the nutter right.  Apparently, my people are big-time plutocrats, controlling banks and newspapers and generally telling others what to think while themselves rolling in money.  A nice lifestyle, I think, particularly the financial part.  So where's my cut?

  I have been left out of this Vast Jewish Conspiracy and forced to work for local government.  and not even the political part, where I understand bribes are an honored tradition, but in the library.  It is well known that when politicians want to cut spending, they cut back on funding the library. Politicians don't read anyway, so no-one is harmed.

  



A fortuitous find

2018-01-17T14:16:50.020-05:00

I am always one book short of clinical depression without a book to look forward to. Sometimes I feel that I have read everything worth reading by my crochety tastes, andf will be stuck re-reading "When Patty Went to College" for the rest of my life.

  Then I get lucky.  On a pile of discards at the Good Will, I discovered "All Our Worldly Goods" by Irene Nemirovsky.  I almost skipped it because I noted that the author had been killed in the Holocaust and I thought her work might be gloomy and depressing. Au contraire!


I find it difficult to express  anything positive or approving about a book or movie.  Dislike is so much easier to articulate.  Nemirov, though, delighted me.  I think you will like her work if you like Tolstoy, or maybe Balzac.   The milieu is bourgeous France between the wars, and she is a keen observer of manners and mores, with a dazzling lightness of touch. 

  I downloaded another of her books to my Kindle, "Suite Francaise," which is even better, also taking place just before the German defeat, a period of great despair, confusion, and hysteria in France.  The advancing German troops disrupt everyone's lives and turn everyone into a refugee.  The fabric of society is torn and can never be reclaimed.  Except it is, after a fashion.

  Read the damn book!



I gave up on trying to understand politics a long time ago

2018-01-05T18:16:35.084-05:00

I can't understand the brouhaha about President Trump.  He's probablly not the most charming man in the world but.  what has he done that's so awful?  Has he sent the secret police to your house at 3 a m to drag you away to prison in chains?  Stolen your bank account?  Kidnapped your children?

  I would prefer Winston Churchill, but that's just me.  He was not on offer.  And Trump has done some stuff I really like, like beat ISIS.  Increased employment.  And my personal favorite, caused, or permitted, the stock market to rise spectacularly, making my small savings, which could be accurately described as the widow's mite, a bit more mighty.  So he has orange hair and tweets a lot.   Compared  to Caligula, he's not so bad.  And he will serve for a minimum of 4 years and a maximum of 8, and will be gone.

  I long ago gave up trying to understand politics. I remember the exact moment when this happened..  It was when the Watergate break-in occurred.  I read the newspapers, listened to the news, and read the books ghost-written by the participants, but was still baffled.  And I am still in that state, but I don't try to understand it any more.  I felt a flicker of interest when Scooter Libby was jailed for spitting on the sidewalk or something, but it soon subsided, and I resumed my customary calm, not to be confused with torpor.

  I've got my own troubles.



Allowing three people a day to be jerks

2017-12-21T22:29:47.825-05:00

I used to get excited over every little thing, particularly when I was behind the wheel of a car, so I adopted a philosophy that stood me in good stead for years:  allow three people a day to be jerks before you take anything too seriously.

  I don't know if I can keep it up much longer, though.  A philosophical question:  do the three people have to include Chuck Shumer?  Or can I make an exception and get my blood pressure up every time I see him on television without abandoning my convictions?

  I'm not extra fussy.  I can take Maxine Walters in my stride any day of the week, as when she announces that 600 million people will lose their health insurance or something like that.  Nancy Pelosi doesn't bother me, I know she's a big liar; Al Franken doesn't get my goat, neither does that old blowhard, Joe Biden.  But Shumer gets to me every day that Congress is in session.

  Thank God Congress is taking a vacation soon, so I can take a vacation from them.  It does wonders for my blood pressure.



Denunciation as a form of punishment

2018-01-30T15:17:27.641-05:00

My father, who was a lawyer, had a conversation with me when I was a teenager on the subject of rape.  I can't remember how it started, but ultimately he told me that allegations of rape were hard to defend against, and that angry women might seek revenge against an innocent person by alleging rape falsely.  Therefore the authorities were hesitant to prosecute such accusations because they could destroy reputations and even lives of innocent men.

  Of course, that was before rape kits and DNA and such.  But he had a point. 

  Now this Me too business has gone too far.  Mere assertions of rape or even loutish behavior are enough to destroy lives. No proof is necessary.  After the first accusation, more complaints pile up.  The accused grovel in public statements and lose their jobs immediately. Their wives leave them.  I wouldn't be surprised to hear that the family dog has bitten the offender. 

  Take Al Franken.  I never thought the day would come when I would defend Franken.  But mere accusations of boorish behavior--which is all that has been alleged--should not have destroyed his career and his livelihood.  And that photograph of him leering over that unconscious woman clearly is not harassment.  Rather, it is sophomoric showing off.  If every man who behaved clownishly were deprived of his job, there would be far less employment in this country.

  Being a nasty person is not a criminal offense.  If a man behaves boorishly, a woman should have enough self-respect to defend herself, not to accuse him of harassment years later, when nothing can be proved and all witnesses have forgotten the circumstances.

  There are other ways of being boorish.  Of being a lousy employer, of picking on subordinates.  If your boss behaves criminally, report him to the authorities.  If he's just a mean son-of-a-bitch, suck it up or look for another job.  Behave  like a grown-up. 

  My fear is that men will be reluctant to hire women.  Hiring a woman would be like giving someone a loaded gun.  It's likely to go off unexpectedly. 

  No one gets a chance to defend himself.  No one gets to confront his accusers. The press acts a judge and jury and the public buys it.  It's not a good way to run a country.



The Trump presidency--how can we stand it?

2017-12-13T21:27:17.946-05:00

Sarcasm alert, of course.  Trump has been president for almost a year, and the secret police have not visited me even once  The stock market is up  I am still as free as I ever was.  So are my friends and relations.I can live with this distressing situation indefinitely., but apparently they can't.  They are more delicate, I guess.

  What has he done?  A lot of this and that, none of it affecting me.  He made anti-semitic remarks.  Except that he didn't.  He's racist, so they say.  Apparently they can sense this through the air, they know it in their bones.  Except their bones are wrong.

  The last I heard this kind of talk, it was about Reagan.  That damn fool made a speech asking Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall.  .  It was awful. The man didn't have a lick of sense. All his advisors warned him not to do it.  But he did it, and shortly thereafter the Berlin Wall was torn down, by a coincidence, no doubt.

  Trump haters, get a grip.



About Roy Moore and guys in their thirties attracted to teenagers

2017-12-12T16:57:24.127-05:00

I am finally giving this my full attention.  -Not that I care who wins the election in Alabama.  They both seem like dopes, as do most of those already serving in the Senate.  So who cares who wins?

  By the way, how can any body that includes Alcee Hastings object to anyone joining their ranks?  He's already been impeached, convicted, and removed from the judgeship.  Good lord, if he can serve in Congress, so could Bugs Bunny.  So, for that matter, could Caligula's horse.  The horse, at least, could not preen himself about his high moral standards.

  Back to Roy Moore, now an old guy but once a thirty-something who was interested in teen age girls.   Let me cite my uncle.  My uncle, an unmarried physician in his thirties, met my aunt at a social event, and asked her out.  I don't remember her exact age at the time, but she must have been a teenager, because they got married when she was 20.  No one considered this scandalous.  They had three children and lived together for at least fifty years.  So it's not exactly unheard of for a man in his thirties to be interested in a younger woman.

  It was not unheard of, back in the unenlightened years of the twentieth century, for a woman to get married in her teens.  Both Elizabeth Taylor and Shirley Temple got married at 17.  No eyebrows were raised in either case.  And very pretty brides they were, too.



Bad courtship

2017-12-02T12:19:59.652-05:00

I am gripped by the revelations pouring forth about all these esteemed entertainers and sages.  Aren't these fellows married?  How did they court their wives?  Did they show up for the first date and remove all their clothes?  As a chaser, did they feel her up?  Or rape her?

  Lots of married men have extramarital affairs, but they are usually the result of mutual consent. .Alexander Hamilton comes to mind, and crossing the pond there is the example of David Lloyd George.  JFK is an outstanding candidate--no complaints from his many girlfriends.

 The usual courtship template went like this in the 20th century:  call the woman up; ASK HER OUT, take her to a movie or  to dinner or to a ball game; start seeing her regularly, buy her flowers or candy for Valentine's Day.  Many of us followed this procedure and ended up in bed, married or not. You could even be single.  If you had a wife and family, you could work around this.  Malcolm Muggeridge was fascinated by what he called the Administrative Side of Love, involving logistics for the inconveniently married.

  There are plenty of ladies out there who go for married men with their eyes wide open.  Go find one of those,, and stop hitting on interns and teenagers.  Isn't life complicated enough without adding charges of rape to your resume?



A ragbag of ideas

2017-12-01T13:59:04.518-05:00

1.   My internet was down for a week.  I couldn't get anything on my computer or my two Kindles  (Don't ask.)  I could get Internet on my phone, but I don't like doing it on such a small screen.  Therefore I was incommunicado.  Not a place I like to be.

I signed up for personal training in August and paid $320 that month.  For some reason, the credit card company thought this was a recurring item, and took out $320 in September and October.  If they hadn't written me a stiff note about the November payment, I might have been paying it still.

I went to the emergency treatment center Tuesday and they found several things wrong with me which I hadn't even thought of.  That's good, I guess.  I hope this does not mean that I'm dying of some mysterious disease.

My family was here for a week, during which time they misplaced the downstairs broom and the downstairs mop.  (I keep duplicates of these things as I don't like to carry them up (or down) stairs.  My daughter is famous for putting things where she believes they should logically be placed.  Therefore I can't find them.  Anyway, I brought the upstairs mop downstairs and mopped the kitchen floor.

Someone commented that I read so many books I should have a book blog.  I don't seriously want to do that.  I don't like reading most books, particularly those highly esteemed by the critics.  For instance, if you put lighted matches under my fingernails I would read the work or Margaret Atwood.  And if I could get to a sink or other source of water, I would put out the flames posthaste so i could stop reading her work as soon as possible.





Not good enough for the New York Times

2017-11-15T16:13:34.781-05:00

A relative has kindly given me a subscription to the Sunday New York Times.  I enjoyed it for a while, then I didn't.

  Why?  Looking at the advertisements--expensive new New York apartments, jewelry, fashion--I realize that I am not a member of the demographic being sought by the New York Times.  I don't have enough money to buy any of the stuff they are selling.  So my readership is not valuable to the newspaper.  Also, I don't agree with the editorial policies of the paper. Only people who can buy expensive apartments overlooking the Hudson are in sympathy with these policies.  They don't fly with paupers like me.

  I also don't like to see President Trump brought into every issue discussed.  No issue can be mentioned without a disdainful mention of Trump being dragged in needlessly.  Just to show that the author of the piece exhibits and is shown to exhibit the proper disdain for Trump and the Americans who voted him into office.

  Endless publicity is given to Congressmen who draw up articles of impeachment of Trump.  The fact that these are unlikely to succeed and are not intended to go anywhere is not mentioned.  They are simply instances of cheap politicians showing off.  Trump is as likely to be impeached as I am to be named Miss America in 2018.




Ulysses wins another one

2017-11-08T16:29:05.897-05:00

That's Ulysses S Grant, not the Ulysses of Homer.  He won the war with me because the book by Ron Chernow  is just to heavy for me to hold.  I will have to get the Audible version from Amazon.  I already know how it ends, but I have tremendous admiration for Grant and want to know more about him.

  Why can't they publish books in two volumes any more?  It worked for Dickens.  It worked for Trollope.It would work for me, too.  Even three volumes would be fine.

  Only don't make a musical out of this one.  Grant was not a music lover.  He is rumored to have said that he only recognized  two tunes:  "One was Yankee Doodle, and the other wasn't."





What's with this Russia thing? And Mueller, and other related bafflling topics

2017-11-06T00:04:17.351-05:00

I have never understood politics--not since the Watergate break-in.  What was the brlght idea of breaking in to Dem headquarters?  The Republicans were a shoo-in to win anyway.  They actually won about 45 states, and would have won more if there had been  57 as  Obama seemed to believe. 

  So I can't quite understand what the Mueller investigation is about.  Wasn't it about Russia influencing the 2016 election? .  It's like you call an exterminator to get rid of the ants and he shows up and confiscates your car.  Is Mueller crazy?  Or is everybody in Washington crazy?

  Then there's the problem, greatly exaggerated, of delicate individuals getting sick or resisting Trump's election.   All they are doing is trying to undermine public confidence in  the election system which has served us pretty well for 200 years.  They should all go stand in a corner and repeat "res ipsa loquitor" over and over until they get it, which will probably take three and a half to seven years.  Or you can give them coloring books  Lots and lots of coloring books.  And don't forget the crayons.

  Meanwhile, perhaps we could dig up a few politicians under the age of  eighty to run for office.  An ability to walk up (or down) stairs unassisted would be a nice quality in a person running for office.  It would also be nice if they stayed sober a good part of the time. 



New biography of Ulysses Grant

2017-10-31T22:28:55.162-04:00

I actually ponied up $24--a record for me-- for this new book by Ron Chernow and temporarily sidelined John Quincy Adams.  Grant is even heavier than JQ was, but he's always been a favorite of mine.  The book leaves a lot to be desired, physically.  The typeface is small and fiddly, and has a grey texture, not quite black but off-black.  The margins are too small, and so is the type.

  Whatever happened to books being published in two volumes?

 Let me give a shout out for the Library of America editions.   They are printed on thin but very good paper, with legible type, and are a pleasure to read.  I read Grant's autobiography in a Llbrary of America edition and did not get a hernia from lifting it.

  About that $24:  every once in a while I buy something at the local Barnes and Noble, in the desperate hope that they will not go out of business.  Perhaps if they tried publishing books in two or three volumes?  On nice preservation paper, with legible type?



I feel slighted

2017-10-29T23:28:07.576-04:00

I've never been sexually harassed.  Oh, I've been harassed plenty on the job,  not because I am a woman, but because most local politicians are scum of the earth. I only know about New Jersey, but my husband informed me the New York variety  were the same, or even worse.  It really makes you wonder about democracy.  Could these pinheads be what the founders envisioned?  Did John Quincy Adams stay up nights to set our nation on the right course so these guys could play grab-ass-- or worse?

  When one woman complained about her butt being felt up by an ancient George H W Bush, I started to feel that I'm lacking on the sexual harassment front.  Even the choir director of a local church, who was known far and wide as a sexual harasser, left me alone.

  Am I missing something?  or have I just lived too long to be part of this nationwide trend?

  I dragged John Quincy Adams into this conversation because I am reading a biography of him, page by agonizing page.  It's interesting, all right, but the book is so heavy I have to read it sitting up or it falls out of my hands.  I'm thinking of bequeathing it to my heirs.  (Note to heirs:  you can start on page 307, if you want to skip his formative years.)



Met opera broadcasts

2017-10-17T10:14:48.930-04:00

I'm very grateful to the Metropolitan Opera for these live broadcasts, since I could never afford a ticket to actual performances at Lincoln Center.

  I have seen two of these broadcasts over the last two weeks of two very different operas.  Let me mention at the start that the singing is superb in both.  No complaints there.  The orchestra, which was conducted on both occasions by James Levine, is one of the best there is.

  The two productions I saw could not be more different otherwise.  Norma, by Bellini, was unrelieved gloom.  Much care was taken to build authentic sets depicting the lifestyle of the Druids.  A great deal of money was spent building a realistic set, with the result that the entire opera looked like a black and white television show from the fifties.  Ralph Kramden would not have appeared out of place on this set, nor would I Love Lucy.  The only thing different was the lack of jokes.  Ayatollah Khomeini stated that there is no fun in Islam, and apparently there was not much fun in Druidic Gael.  

  The Druids worshipped Nature.   Apparently, if this depiction is accurate, they dressed in burlap.  Both men and women wore droopy burlap robes tied carelessly around the waist with something or other that might have been a vine.  Norma,the high priestess, however, had other problems.  Her lover, and father of her two children, was no longer interested in her, having transferred his affections to her second in command.  Then on top of that, the Romans were threatening the tribe.
 
  After much gloom and doom, the lovers were defeated by those pesky Romans but reunited in their love.  They agreed to be burned alive on a pyre together, which is as close to  a happy ending as it ever gets in Druidland.

  On the other hand, the Magic Flute sparkled.  Stars twinkled, fireworks went off, dancers danced.  The costumes were lavish and colorful.  The players had a wonderful time, and so did the audience.  All were excellent. Markus Werba as Papageno was a delightful clown, and the rest of the cast were uniformly excellent.  Especially notable was Golda Schultz--not the Golda who payed mah jong with your grandma, but a young, vivacious black woman from South Africa who played Pamina.