Friday, May 30, 2014

Good Will University

I'm getting all my reading material from Good Will. So far this year I've gotten "Reinventing Japan" by Ian Buruma, deTocqueville's "Democracy in America", "Benjamin Disraeli" by Adam Kirsch, "The Sea Wolf" by Jack London, a collection of Moliere's comedies, and a lot of books so forgettable I've already forgotten them. The usual sludge.
I love our library. It's hard to find a library that isn't better than nothing, and mine definitely is. But the downstairs near the entrance is given over to DVDs and children's books. The computer software which searches the holdings of all Delaware libraries is clumsy and hard to use. The adult books are upstairs in the back of the building, involving a bit of a hike. Also, nobody reads the shelves to see if any books are out of order, and plenty are.
But the Good Will is a win/win situation. I pay a dollar, sometimes two, per book, and when done pass them on to my daughter if she is interested. She ultimately sells them at her library's book sale.
The ones she doesn't want are donated to the AAUW annual book sale. I get an itemized receipt--usually a dollar per book-- to take off my income tax. Then somebody takes them home and reads them.
The method is perfect for a dabbler like me. I'm not necessarily looking for anything specific but am interested in anything not involving math or economics. I like history and there's a lot of history out there.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Conservatives are puzzled

I've been reading a lot of conservative comments about how inconsistent liberals are--poor dear but deluded conservatives. When you were a child, your dad promised to take you to the circus and reneged. It's not fair!

Fairness has nothing to do with it! Consistency has nothing to do with it, either. They are on the blue team, you are on the red team, and they can do exactly as they like. It's not about ideas; it's not about victims, or racism, or the War against Women. It's about winning! When you are on the blue team, it's okay to do or say anything at all, as long as you can gouge your enemies' eyes out. It's about winning, first, last and foremost.

Doesn't Harry Reid remind you of some creepy, dried-up character from Victorian fiction? Trollope, Dickens, George Eliot, I know I've met him before. Or maybe someone from Gogol?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

My dad and his invention

In all this family stuff I notice I haven't said much about my dad. He was a man who it is not easy to ignore. He wouldn't let you.
He was not a screamer, like the Belarus side of my family. His family was from Hungary, but he was born in Youngstown, OH. He was the last of four children; he was premature and the doctors told his mother that he was not likely to live, but he did, for 99 years and a bit, until sent to his death by someone in the hospital who did not wash their hands.
Dad started his professional life as a newspaper man. When he married my mother, he qualified for the bar exam by working in her law office. He did not attend law school. Actually, he never exactly finished college at the University of Wisconsin either. I don't think he even got his high school diploma, having cut gym for four years at his high school in Peoria, IL. But he could talk his way into, or out of, almost anything, including jobs and marriages.
He was good with his hands and had an intuitive grasp of how things worked. When he opened the hood of a car, he understood what he was looking at and what needed to be done. He could fix small things around the house, like faucets and light switches, and built simple furniture, like bookcases.Dad noticed that the toe seam of women's stockings was crude and lumpy and showed in open toed shoes, so he set about inventing a sewing machine that would sew an invisible seam at the toe of a stocking. A whole room of his house was dedicated to the project. Actually, when his son left for college, his bedroom was converted to a workshop. He worked on it obsessively. He would drive 50 miles to visit me, stay for a few minutes, and then leave to work on his invention. This went on for years.
He finally figured it out and was about to succeed in patenting the device, when the world of fashion changed completely. Elegance and style disappeared, and women stopped wearing hosiery altogether. Except maybe socks.
Remind me to tell you about his career(s) in plant management, writing, and painting some time.

More car news

General Motors recalled more cars than it sold last year.
Res ipsa loquitor?

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Running out of room to park new cars

These are not the cars you and I are buying and looking for a place to park:
Cars are being manufactured and left unsold all over the world.
Why don't they stop making them if no-one wants to (or can afford) to buy them? It defies logic.
Read the whole article.
No wonder the Nissan dealers keep calling me!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A beautiful book

Benjamin Disraeli by Adam Kirsch is a lovely book which I picked up at the Good Will, my favorite venue for quality books. It's the right size, fitting nicely into the hand, has beautiful acid-free paper, a nice typeface, esthetically pleasing text to margin ratio, and a nice dust jacket mad of high quality paper.
It's also fun to read, if you are interested in Disraeli, which perhaps not everyone is. The emphasis here is on how Judaism affected his life, mostly in indirect ways. I can see why it will not soon make the best seller list, but is worth reading if you are interested in English history. The man himself was brilliant, witty, and ambitious. But above all, he was persistent.
He stood for Parliament four times before succeeding in winning a seat--and and a good thing, too; he barely escaped being imprisoned for debt. (Members of Parliament cannot be imprisoned, except for heinous crimes, like treason.)
He subsequently married a rich widow. In those days, marrying for money was quite acceptable in polite society, and he made no bones about it. The marriage was a successful one, however; they had real affection for each other, and she was, in modern terms, a political junkie, who helped him in his career.

Friday, May 09, 2014

Attention Tim Blair!

Michelle Obama has got that head tilt thing going on. I like the little pout, don't you? Like she's asking for another serving of ice cream--not that she would! Do you think Boko Haram will honor her plea? Statecraft in action!

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Monday, May 05, 2014

Predictions of the future

Actually, who predicts the past? But let that go.
But aside from that, if the Republicans win the next presidency, (although I have faith they will pick the dullest, stupidest candidate) the homeless, who you never read about during the Obama administration, will start flooding the streets of American cities.
Among them will be decorated veterans, many with limbs missing, and small children. This great mass of homeless will take to the streets the day after inauguration, January 2017.
Remember, you read it here first.