Friday, November 15, 2019

A World of Epsilon Minuses?


I recently re-read Brave New World, Huxley’s dystopian vision of a future in which humanity is managed to produce an optimum number of various classes to fulfill various functions. At the bottom are the Epsilons – capable of little more than serving as an elevator operator but programmed to be happy in that function.

Then this morning, I heard on NPR a snippet of a program. Climate change, it said, is projected to have the effect on the world's population of lowering life expectancy and intelligence—children’s brains don’t develop well in conditions like famine and pollution. (See Flint, Michigan. See also THIS article.)

NY Times
And it occurred to me--perhaps those plutocrats who are pushing the horrific policies of the Republican Party—gutting environmental protections to boost corporate earnings--are playing the long game here, as surely as the managers of Huxley’s future poison the Epsilons in (artificial)utero to stunt their development. 

Safe in their climate-controlled gilded towers, the plutocrats don’t fear the effects of climate change. Their children will always eat well. And if the masses grow slowly weaker and dumber and even more malleable, well, someone has to clean those gilded towers and service those air-conditioners. And Fox News can be relied upon to tell the masses how very happy they are, in this brave new world. 

LA Times

Thursday, November 14, 2019

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek

I zoomed through this book, lent me by one of my book pusher friends. It boasts two good hooks: The Pack Horse librarians of Depression-era Kentucky, intrepid women funded by the WPA who traveled the hills and hollers on horseback, bringing books to isolated homes and schools, and the strange Blue People of Kentucky, a tiny group suffering from a genetic disorder that turns their skin blue. Either group is interesting enough for a novel, but here we have a Pack Horse Librarian who is a Blue.  

The novel is chock-full of fascinating folk ways and historical detail. Plus there's an admirable young woman, fighting to make her way in the world--a world that counts her as "colored" and abnormal. There's a love story too...

A good read on a chilly day. And a good reminder of the discrimination and unequal treatment women, in general, and people of color, in particular, have always faced.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Monday, November 11, 2019

Veterans Day 2019

Just in time for Veteran's Day, President Bonespurs is ordered to make restitution for using donations to vets as a personal piggy bank.

Turns out, according to 45*'s admissions in court papers, that the  fund-raiser for vets in Iowa, days before the nominating caucuses, was actually a campaign event and the campaign had complete control over the money raised.  See full article 

Nobody loves vets and military people more that El Cheeto--they're so useful for photo ops. (Unless, of course, they're testifying against him like Lt. Col. Vindman.)

Meanwhile, there are homeless vets, sick vets, vets being deported, vets in every kind of need. . . in what was once a great country. 

Saying Thank you for your service isn't enough.

Honoring those who served . . . and lamenting those who have been used and forgotten.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Dang! . . .

Fifty six years . . . where does the time go?

Friday, November 8, 2019

The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehesi Coates

My reading of this debut novel by a highly acclaimed writer of non-fiction was somewhat interrupted by recent events and I fear I can't do it justice. There are links to two thoughtful reviews at the end of this post -- I won't attempt to better them.

But here are my personal takeaways.

 I was moved by the humanity in the portrayal of life among the enslaved and especially by the recounting of the survival of African traditions. 

The leap into magical realism--wherein the protagonist and some others have a magical power called conduction that allows some bending of time and space--was quite a departure from the usual historical narrative of those times. 

But I so understand the desire to give extraordinary power to the oppressed and enslaved. I did something similar in The Day of Small Things  when I gave supernatural strength and magic to the octogenarian Miss Birdie, wanting to empower an old woman who would normally be helpless in the face of such adversity.

Another takeaway was Coates's eschewing of the term slave for those who were enslaved. That may seem a niggling difference but I believe I understand.  I can imagine a person saying, "I may have been enslaved but I was never a slave. That word does not define me."

I'm going to work on making this a part of my vocabulary. After all, I've managed to learn to do one space instead of two after a period and to use the term Asian rather than Oriental.  I can learn.

It's not so much a matter of political correctness as it is a matter of politeness. Even kindness.

An interesting book, well worth the read.
NYT review HERE  and NPR review RIGHT HERE

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

May Its Memory Be a Blessing


The insurance will fall far short of replacing the barn as it was. We are talking about a simple one story frame building in the same footprint -- big enough for a shop and the iconic Easter Party. Eventually.