Sunday, November 20, 2011
As the subject for a full length book, Gossip doesn’t hold much interest for me. But I read everything Joseph Epstein writes and I have not yet been disappointed. Epstein doesn’t tend to write definitive books on subjects, but thoughtful ones. He explores his experience with a topic and the history of it. Why do we like gossip? How is gossip beneficial and how is it hurtful? How has it been used for good and bad. Sprinkled through this history of gossip public and private are personal anecdotes, some involving notable figures.
To summarize the section involving gossip in America, Epstein quotes Ben Franklin, the original gossip columnist in his opinion, “…if any are offended by my publicity their private vices, I promise they shall have satisfaction, in a very little time, of their good friends and neighbors in the same circumstances.” Later Epstein shows how high society in 20th Century America sought out the attention of gossip columnists and how Hollywood moguls fed gossip to Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons to promote their films and worry their wayward stars. He shows how Walter Winchell used his gossip column to become one of the most power private citizens in the country and how that hubris eventually led to his downfall. What about modern gossip?
Like me, Epstein doesn’t recognize most of the names in The New Your Post’s Page 6 Column, but he can see that gossip isn’t about to go out of fashion.
You come away not sure how much Epstein endorses gossip or dislikes it. But you have a much fuller knowledge of the subject before you began the book. Even if you are not interested in gossip pick up a book of essays by Joseph Epstein and enjoy a great mind at work and play.
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
They looked intriguing at $400, but I never would have spent that kind of money, especially when I wasn't sure I'd like the interface more than a printed book. The price is right at $114 and I decided to buy mine at Best Buy thinking it would be an easier return if I didn't like it. I knew I wasn't returning it within an hour. A deciding factor in the purchase was travel. Lugging books on vacation is no fun especially when you can't predict the variety you might want on a trip. Another fun reason to own one is the access to thousands of pre-1923 books for no cost. I read an 1870s biography of Davy Crockett that has long been out of print. I think what surprised me most is my reading speed has increased due to the mechanics of the device. With the promise of lending library books coming soon, the Junto Boys could do worse than this handy friend.
Monday, September 19, 2011
Sometimes I have the hankering to post something personal to Facebook but refrain. Ironically, this blog feels more personal even though it's read by anyone with no "privacy" filters. In the end, I know it'll be my five buddies who'll read it. One of the far lefty's posted in the "Rat's Nest" that he noticed I often agreed with him that Corporations used the Government to enact their policies or regulations against the "little guy" to keep down competition. However, I always offered as the solution less government and term limits for congress. I don't actually "hate" the Federal Government nor my country. I love them both. I worked for the Feds for seven years. I do dislike and work to change the system. The reason I do not rail against corporations is that corporations never reached into my bank account and seized (without cause) money from me, but the IRS did just that. No Corporation ever audited me or threatened me with jail for filing an incorrect form mistakenly, but the Feds via Medicare did that. No Corporation ever kicked my door in and gunned down my family. But the Gov. did that to my Uncle, unjustly. Perhaps my own personal experience has led me to my beliefs that the "Government that Governs least, Governs Best."
Friday, July 08, 2011
Sir Saunders pays homage to this blog elsewhere today.
As Tom noted below, Facebook killed this blog.
I liked this blog. I don't like Facebook.
I do not care what everyone is thinking. I only ever cared what you guys were thinking. Sir Saunders, Tom, Dude, and Jonah Goldberg I consistently find witty, engaging, insightful, unique, well spoken, and right. It would take me a few minutes to come up with a fifth name for that list.
Sir enjoys the debate. I miss the echo chamber.
I am surprised to see recent activity here by Tom. Tom, you have 96 posts to go this year. But who is reading them?
That is what I liked about this blog. I was writing for a highly discriminating audience of about five people.
Since leaving this blog, I have become even more circumspect in my use of the Internet and what I choose to post online. I think, in general, that, for me, there is little to gain and something at risk in saying too much online.
I have also learned that, other than people who pay me to give it, nobody much cares about my opinion or my take.
But I do regret that I have had nowhere to go with all the posts these past two years that I had no reason to write.
Thank you, Junto Boys. It was great.
Wednesday, May 04, 2011
Thursday, April 14, 2011
8. His stance against the war in Iraq. Not an easy decision, but I applauded his courage to take a political stand with thought and conviction.
Wouldn't the thoughtful decision have been to play in the Mexican League instead?
Rep. Perry Thurston, D-Plantation: “Think about what is the true purpose of this legislation…It’s about silencing the unions. And silencing the middle class. The middle class and citizens across this great state…When did individuals who want to participate in the process, middle-class citizens who want to participate in the process, when did they become public enemy number one.? They are not.”
What I like about this quote is how unintentionally patronizing it is. The unstated premise is that the middle class's voice will go silent unless money is deducted automatically from their checks and unions be allowed to spend that money on political positions that employees don't necessarily agree with.
Sunday, April 10, 2011
Saturday, April 09, 2011
Decision points by George W. Bush (A Book Review)
President Bush spares us the long, over-analyzed narcissistic view of his life and focuses on the big decisions of his presidency and how his view of the world and the facts as he knew them guided him in his decision making. That approach is a great one. The decisions themselves are a mixed bag depending on how much faith you have in government solutions. I tend to think his reflection was most insightful dealing with war and terrorism where he faced a different kind of enemy and new decisions daily. His domestic policy decisions are more frustrating because President Bush is of the FDR influence that government failure is a result of faulty approach rather than systematic problems.
On the positive side Bush does a great job of laying out the decisions behind going to war in Afghanistan and Iraq. To his credit he voices the concerns of his critics, explains his thought process, and is honest about the world leaders and the internal politics they faced. That part of the book will be debated for years as the history of the war comes into focus and this history will be a part of the discussion.
On the disappointing side, the former President spends no time explaining to us what the government should stop doing. There is no real defense of spending restraint or the idea that something isn’t the government’s job. The expenditures for No Child Left Behind and the Medicare prescription drug program are good because the reforms made government work better. What about spending priorities? Silence. Nothing seems to be so important that something else should be discarded. The assumption is that spending tomorrow’s money is fine because it has always worked in the past.
President Bush also makes the politician’s error that a legislative victory is a policy victory. In his justification for Immigration reform he explains that his plan wasn’t amnesty because there was a list of safeguards and milestones that had to be met for citizenship while forgetting that all of those barriers would have been removed after the 2008 election of Barak Obama. How could he not see that especially after admitting the Democrats eventually gutted the important provisions of the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit? He doesn’t want to see it.
Bush’s compassionate conservatism comes to life in the Hurricane Katrina section of the book. He takes great pains to lay out the separation of powers and how Governor Blanco refused to let the Federal Government takeover the situation on the ground. Yet he regrets not ignoring the constitution and invading Louisiana to save those people. It’s obvious the media sting still hurts him, although I see it as a missed opportunity where he could have explained how the government that insists on doing everything cannot be as effective doing those things only it can do. Individuals have to prioritize their lives whereas politicians have convinced us that the government doesn’t need priorities. They can do everything better than us and all at once.
My criticism here is of Bush’s worldview on spending and government, not on his fairly even-handed account of his years in the White House. I had no expectation that Bush’s memoir would reveal all that much, but I came away with a respect for his approach at writing and what I think was an honest attempt to give his war critics their due. Although Bush was a divisive leader I would guess that some future Republican trying to roll back government will be compared unfavorably to Bush and his compassionate conservatism.