Friday, August 28, 2009
Three mini-reviews in this batch:
"Vanity Fair," William Makepeace Thackery
"The Promised Land," Mary Antin
"Metropolitan Corridor," John Stillgoe
I picked up Thackeray's "Vanity Fair" from the shelf where it had lain unread, lo these many years, and spent two weeks utterly immersed in the world of Becky Sharp and her
friends associates victims. I'd never read the book before, but did see a made-for-tv movie based on it several years ago...IIRC, the movie was far more centered around Becky herself, whereas the book develops the other characters to a considerably greater degree.
Very funny (once you get used to the dense writing style) and utterly unsentimental: Thackeray called it "a novel without a hero." Those looking for escapism by reading about the elegant lifestyles of the English upper classes should definitely look elsewhere: for all others, this book is highly recommended.
"The Promised Land," by Mary Antin, is the story of the author's journey from Polotzk, Russia (a town which was part of the Jewish Pale of Settlement) to Boston, Massachussetts, with her family, in the late 1800s. Antin was a keen observer and a vivid writer--particularly impressive given that she had no exposure to English until she was 13. "The Promised Land" was published in 1912, having been first serialized in the Atlantic Monthly.
continued at Chicago Boyz
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Business Insider explains why our stimulus programs are so unexciting, arguing that we don't live in the same country that built the Hoover Dam, the TVA and the Mount Rushmore monument.
Sarah Palin says that meaningful healthcare reform must involve legal reform.
Jane Austen analyzes Obama's personality...more precisely, Bookworm seems a strong element of Obama in the personality of Austen's Mr Eliot.
Emotional resiliency and psychological calisthenics...an interesting article by Beverly Eakman. (via Darren)
Monday, August 24, 2009
BREAKING THE SPRINGS
In 1944, the writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery was flying reconnaissance missions with the Free French forces. He was also working on what would be his last book: the philosophical musings of the fictional ruler of a fictional desert kingdom. St-Ex was killed in action before he got the chance to finalize the manuscript, but it was published as Citadelle in French and under the somewhat unfortunate name Wisdom of the Sands in English.
In one passage, the ruler muses that the criminal who has been sentenced to death may well contain an inward beauty of some form...but goes on to justify his execution:
For by his death I stiffen springs which must not be permitted to relax.
I thought about this passage when I heard about the decision of the Scottish authorities to release the Lockerbie bomber Al Megrahi, who has now received a hero's welcome in his native Libya.
continued at Chicago Boyz.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
WHAT, PRECISELY, IS "CREATIVITY?"
From this article:
At the Kansas University School of Journalism, enrollment is currently 70 percent female, according to the school’s dean, Ann Brill.
“I’m sure there are a couple of reasons for this,” Brill said. “It’s probably a right brain/left brain thing. That sounds sexist, but there’s some truth to it.”
Men tend to be drawn to more analytical majors such as engineering or business, whereas women enjoy the creativity that journalism allows for, she said.
Ignore, for the moment, the gender stereotyping and the lack of supporting data (are women really that rare in undergraduate business programs? I don't think so) and concentrate on the implied assertion that journalism is inherently more creative than either business or engineering.
continued at Chicago Boyz
Monday, August 17, 2009
Erin O'Connor writes about sensitivity and cowardice at Yale. More on this from Ezra Levant and Roger Kimball.
University Diaries links a New York Times article on schools of education and excerpts a number of passages pointing out the ridiculousness of these institutions.
Slate Magazine asked its readers: "How is America going to end?" Rick Darby suggests some answers.
UPDATE: Things that seem surprising, but are actually obvious once you think about them. (via Isegoria)
Sunday, August 16, 2009
HEALTHCARE: MACKEY, OBAMA, AND REID
See my post at Chicago Boyz.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
OBAMA, ISRAEL, AND MARY ROBINSON--CONTINUED
I've written before about Obama's bizarre decision to award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Mary Robinson. More on this from:
The Jerusalem Post
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
General Motors has announced that the Chevy Volt will get 230 mpg for city driving, and probably around 100 mpg for combined city/highway driving.
The Volt obtains this performance, of course, through its use of a battery recharged from the grid. "230 mpg" means "230 miles per gallon of gasoline," and ignores the coal or natural gas which in most cases will supply the recharging. The Electricity Fairy has not been coming around a lot lately.
A proper metric for a vehicle such as the Volt depends on what factors the buyer really cares about...
If your main concern is "energy independence," then "miles per gallon of gasoline" is probably a reasonable criterion.
If your main concern is operating cost, then you need "total cost per mile," based on a combination of gasoline cost and electricity cost.
If you worry that the world is going to run out of energy, you should be looking at "BTUs per mile."
And if you really believe CO2 is going to destroy us all, then the metric you should care about is "CO2 emissions per mile."
Read more »
Thursday, August 06, 2009
Carl from Chicago writes about the emerging American Nomenklatura.
Bookworm writes about her mom's connection to the Hiroshima bombing.
ISRAEL AND THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION
Evidence continues to come in suggesting that Obama is not very friendly toward Israel. Most recently, he has decided to award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Mary Robinson. PowerLine notes that "Obama made this decision even though Robinson presided over the Israel-bash at the 2001 Durban Conference Against Racism and, indeed, has consistently displayed her animus towards the state of Israel." Much more about Robinson and her attitudes and activities at the link.
Eliot Engle, the first Democratic Congressman to publicly criticize the selection, says that "She personifies everything wrong with the United Nations." Engle, though, thinks Obama's choice represents a "screw-up" by the White House staff rather than demonstrating malice toward Israel.
Malice or incompetence--take your choice.
Wednesday, August 05, 2009
EXECUTIVE TRAINING IN SEVENTH GRADE
Sallie Krawcheck has joined Bank of America as head of wealth management, and is being discussed as a possible CEO when Ken Lewis leaves. Which reminds me of something she said in an interview back in 2006:
I grew up in Charleston, a very genteel, very Southern city, a gorgeous city. I will say there's something about going to an all-girls school in Charleston that's tougher than Wall Street. You don't know what it's like. I had the glasses, the braces, the corrective shoes. I was half-Jewish, half-WASPy. I couldn't have been further outcast. There was nothing they could do to me at Salomon Brothers in the '80s that was worse than the seventh grade.
(from interview in Fortune, 5/29/06)
Tuesday, August 04, 2009
BIG WHEEL CEASE FROM TURNIN'
The steamboat Delta Queen is a well-known and much-loved vessel. Built in 1926, she is 285 feet long, with a steel hull, powered by two steam engines of 2000HP each. She was originally used for passenger service between San Francisco and Sacramento. After being refurbished in 1945, she began service on the Mississippi River and its tributaries, and has operated in that role ever since. Thousands of Americans have enjoyed river cruising on the Delta Queen.
Not any more, though. Delta Queen made her last passenger voyage in 2008, and is now tied up as a hotel in Chattanooga. The end of passenger service is not due to any structural or mechanical problems with the vessel, nor is it due to the difficult economy. Rather, the demise of the Delta Queen says a great deal--not much of it very encouraging--about the political and cultural environment now existing in this country.
continued at Chicago Boyz
Monday, August 03, 2009
NeoNeocon has discovered a blog which is totally dedicated to strange look-alike pictures. Several of the best ones are at her site--lots more at totallylookslike.com.