ffortsa reads 2010

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ffortsa reads 2010

joulukuu 26, 2019, 8:50 pm

Hm. This is getting a bit ridiculous. But sometimes I just want to record what I've read. Mostly this will be about New Yorker editions.

Muokkaaja: marraskuu 18, 2020, 12:07 pm

January 4, 2010

Profiles: Food Fighter by Nick Paumgarten

A profile of John Mackey, co-founder and CEO of Whole Foods, and by extension about Whole Foods itself.

A Critic At Large: Van Gogh's Ear by Adam Gopnick

This essay on Van Gogh and Gaugin is sparked by a book Van Gogh's Ear: Paul Guaguin and the Pack of Silence by Hans Kaufmann and Rita Wildegans, in which the authors argue that it was Gaugin who sliced of Van Gogh's ear. The essay goes on to discuss the friendship and rivalry between the two men, their very different approaches to art, and Theo Van Gogh's involvement with their art. Gopnik compares the two artists:

"Gaugin went on to Tahiti, to become - through his effect on Picasso and also on the entire Malraux-Hemingway generation - a central type of the modert artist. There is another kind of moral luck, though, appealed to by vanGogh in his late pictures and letters, different from the flamboyant self-creation of the more familiar Gauguin-Picasso sort. it is the moral luck of making something that no one wants in the belief that someone someday will."

That reminds me of an anecdote concerning Beethoven and his last quartets. When a fellow musician complained that he didn't understand them, Beethoven is supposed to have remarked "They are not for you. They are for the future."

The Critics: Books: Donald Spoto's "High Society: The life of Grace Kelly" by Anthony Lane

The book completely skewers any ice-princess view anyone might have had of Grace Kelly, before or during her film career, and gives some context to her background and difficult upbringing.

January 11, 2010

Just two items:

Letter from Chicago: After the Blowup by John Cassidy

In which Cassidy details the history of economist Richard A. Posner and his break with the Chicago School. You mean, because it doesn't work?

Profiles: Number Nine by Lauren Collins

A profile of Sonia Sotomayor, how Obama came to appoint her the ninth justice to the Supreme Court, and how she stepped right in with her own down to earth style.

January 18, 2010

Annals of Business: The Sure Thing by Malcolm Gladwell

In which he debunks the myth of the daredevil entrepreneur and illustrates the careful consideration of as close to a sure thing as the really successful folks can get.


Found in Translations: Novels from the Arab World by Claudia Roth Pierpont

A valuable article on the history of the novel in Arab-speaking countries, where poetry was originally much more prized. The list of writers she discusses is definitely worth the read.

January 25, 2010

American Chronicles: The Iceman by Jill Lepore

Lepore writes a profile of Robert C. W. Ettinger, who has spent his life championing cryonics as a way to postpone death. He is 91, so his craft has some urgency, at least for him. He hasn't had many takers.

Annals of Communication: Non-Stop News by Ken Auletta

In which Auletta describes the presidential press office and its relationship to the press - and this after all is in the Obama Administration.

Somehow I thought the authorship of these two articles would have been the other way around.

February 1, 2010

Letter from Dresden: Embers by George Packer

Dresden has risen from the ashes to in some ways exactly recreate itself. He points to Frederick Taylor's history "Dreden: Tusday, February 13, 1945" to delineate how the target was legitimate, a large industrial city using slave labor to produce essentials of warfare for the Lkuftwaffe, as well as Victor Klemperer's diaries detailing how the city 'turned into a place of terror that ostracized, humiliated, warehouse, tortured, and, finally, annihilated its Jews." The arsenal Packer discusses, the Albertstadt, redesigned and rebuilt by Daniel LIbeskind, is built in and around the original building, and serves as a museum, hopefully honest and critical of the war.

New York Journal: Busted by Larissa MacFarquhar

A detailed, dialog-rich investigation of the investigators who investigate civil service crime in the city. Someone should make a movie.

February 15&22, 2010

I'm reading an article on Eric Holder and the prosecution of Khalid Sheik Mohammed. One demonstrator against the trial in a civilian, rather than a military court, had this to say:
How can someone who is not an American have any right to our rights?"

I didn't read through the rest of the article. But the rest of the issue is quite interesting.

Annals of Anthropology: Drinking Games by Malcolm Gladwell

In this article, Gladwell describes the rules involving drinking alcohol in different cultures, including farmers in the Andes and Italian immigrants in the US. The amount of alcohol in each of these cultures may seem extreme, but the manner of their drinking seems to make an enormous difference in how it affects them. The farmers in the Andes have very formal patterns that solidify their social connections; the Italians eat with food and always in rather precise amounts. Psychologists speculate that the brawling and violence associated with fratboys has more to do with the social clues - loud music, a crush of people, and the cultural expectations exhibited in movies and on TV. Most of us have not had good cultural examples of social drinking, and that makes a difference.

Life and Letters: the Guam Caper by Roger Angell

Angell profiles St. Clair McKelway, who among other things was Chief Censor and Public Relations Officer of the XXI Bomber Command of the Twentieth Air Force. He was also mentally unstable, probably manic depressive, and at one point accused Admiral Nimitz of high treason, in writing which became more and more incoherent. Good connections got him out of trouble based on his mental history, and he returned to The New Yorker, and continued to write for many years. It's a fabulous example of privilege and wartime excuses, and a fine career at the magazine.

McKelway is quoted in a story about him and his last wife. When he met her at Idlewild when she returned from a trip to Ireland, she said "I thought you were on the wagon," since he clearly was not. He is reported to reply "I was but I got off for a minute and when I came back somebody had taken my seat."

Portfolio by Platon: The Promise

A timely portfolio of Black leaders such as Nita Lowery, Judge Robert L. Carter, The Little Rock Nine, and many others. Great portraits. Unfortunately, we are still not where they were leading, 10 years after.

Incidentally, this issue is the Eustace Tilly one, and has a glorious double cover of cartoons, one creating the look using an unknowing actor, and the other featuring a butterfly searching Manhattan for some nectar and finding Eustace instead.

March 1, 2020

This issue was a great accompaniment to a long, boring day of working at the primary polls in 2020.

Annals of Gastronomy: Where's Chang? by Calvin Trillin

Peter Chang is an exceptional Szechuan chef who, at least as of this article, was constantly moving from restaurant to restaurant and city to city, only to have his avid followers track him down and make pilgrimages to enjoy his cuisine. As soon as a restaurant reviewer found him, his fans descended and he moved on. Not that he was that interested in isolation - he greeted his old friends warmly each time. But he seems to get unhappy with something or other in each restaurant, and moves on in the hope of finding a better environment.

I just googled him and found a restaurant bearing his name in Connecticut. No guarantee he's still there, of course!

Profiles: The Deflationist - How Paul Krugman Found Politics by Larissa MacFarQuhar

I'm sure much more has been written about Paul Krugman since this article, but the profile is wonderful, following the intellectual journey of Krugman's economic theory as well as his socially tone-deaf manner of insulting everyone and being amazed at the reaction. He seems to have had the same innocent regard for corporate behavior until the Enron scandal (shades of Alan Greenspan marveling at the toxic management of the big banks), but when he became a columnist for the New York Times, he began evaluating politicians the way he evaluated other people's theories, and criticized Bush and Obama in equal parts. After a rush of opprobium for his critique of Obama, his followers caught up with him however.

It seems Krugman, who is a science fiction fan, derived his life's mission from Isaac Asimov's character Hari Seldon in Foundation, where the 'psychohistorian' can predict the course of events 'thousands of years into the future and save mankind from barbarism." Krugman decided history was to backward-looking, and chose economics instead as a more possibly predictive and explanatory discipline. In his career, he has proven a talent for taking an observation, such as certain industries inhabit certain geographic areas, and turning it into mathematics appreciated by fellow economists for their concision and mathematical beauty. Lots of his models have turned out to be completely non-predictive, but as in science, the wrong theory can lead to better theories, or at least insightful critiques. And he doesn't mind when that happens.

I'll have to catch up on Krugman over the ten years between then and now. Maybe the New Yorker has written an update.

Our Local Correspondents: Strangers on the Mountain by Ben McGrath

Who knew that Appalachian communities thrived so close to New York City? In northwest Bergen County, New Jersey, a community of mountain dwellers who live and hunt in the woods has evolved over centuries in the Ramapo Mountain woodlands. In 2006, three park rangers encountered one of the Dennison family men toting a switchblade and a gun with hollow-point bullets, and a culture war ensued. One man died.

The community origins are part legend and part history, including Native American, Afro-American, and European ancestors, known for many years as 'Jackson whites'. It's a fascinating story of hillbilly and suburban culture, complicated by industrial and mining toxic waste dumping with attendant sinkholes, all 25 miles from New York City. After ten years of suburban expansion, I wonder how much of this population exists.

A Critic at Large: Head Case - can psychiatry be a science? by Louis Menand

I don't really trust Menand to be positive about subjects like psychiatry, and much of this article is sceptical about antidepressants, citing flawed studies and corporate interest. He doesn't quite come out and say don't take the pills, and cites lots of severely depressed people who say the opposite out of personal experience, but I still think he leans toward what he himself calls the Calvinist view of suffering through.

Musical Events: Waveforms - The singular Iannes Xenakis

I haven't heard the music of Iannis Xenakis, who seems to have combined mathematics and architecture to make music. A graph in the review shows parabolas translated into webs of glissandos. The JACK Quartet has made a specialty of his string quartets. The composer is quoted as saying he sought "A total exaltation in which the individual mingles, losing his consciousness in a truth immediate, rare, enormous, and perfect." Maybe I should try them.

March 8 -

After a really packed issue, this one is not so interesting to me. There is a piece on Marina Abramovic and the Art of Pain, by Judith Thurman, and another on Clint Eastwood by David Denby. The article that did grab me was a review, also by David Denby, of the movie "The Ghost Writer", which I really enjoyed and now want to see again.

March 15 -

Two articles in this issue also:

Profiles: New Note - Esperanza Spalding's Music by John Colapinto

How did I not hear about this woman? I must get some of her recordings. My interest is doubled by a jazz/classical concert I heard yesterday by the pianist Aaron Deihl, in which he played both written concert music of the 20th century and stride piano pieces. I have a lot to learn about jazz and its precursors, and about 20th century music that blurs genres.

There is also an excoriating review of Martin McDonagh's play "A Behanding in Spokane". I don't recall enough of it to comment on the review's accuracy, but I didn't like the play.

March 22 -

Again, two articles, neither of which I read. The first, a an Onward and Upward with the Arts piece on Oskar Eustace and the Public Theater, didn't interest me. The second, a profile of Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, entitiled 'The Supreme Court's Liberal Leader', was bound to be too painful at this juncture.

March 29 -

The Style issue. Not my thing.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 29, 2021, 6:37 pm

this project is not going well! But here is April anyway.

April 5 -

Just when I was thinking of just recycling all my New Yorkers, this issue came along. Several articles were very worth reading.

A Reporter At Large: The Hunted by Jeffrey Goldberg

This extensive essay charts the work of Mark and Delia Owens, who are best known for their first book Cry of the Kalahari. While still in their 20s, they decided to live in Africa and became committed to wildlife conservation. Over many years and several locations, they became more and more obsessed with their mission, to the point that Zambian officials threw them out of the country, and then threatened a police investigation of the death of a poacher, which happened during the filming of a TV documentary. While their mission seems genuine, their regard for the people of the countries they worked in seems more colonial than it should have been, and Mark in particular showed autocratic tendencies that didn't stop when they moved to northern Idaho. It's an interesting article on choosing a passion and how it can affect action and behavior.

The Critics: Transfigured - How Muriel Spark rose to join the creme de la creme of British fiction - by Thomas Mallon

On the occasion of a biography by Martin Stannard's biography of Muriel Spark, Mallon summarizes her life and casts a cold eye on her work. Born in Scotland, Spark wasn't able to afford college, and instead married an older man and headed for Southern Rhodesia. When the marriage foundered, she left him and her young son and returned to Britain in 1944 to work for the Foreign Office in a dirty tricks unit. When she regained custody of her son, she sent him to her mother in Scotland. Didn't Doris Lessing do much the same thing? Anyway, in the general rush of writers converting to Catholocism, she did also, although her commitment was not exactly obedient.

Mallon (and perhaps her biographer) regard her as heartless, little interested in character, unmoved by world events except if they offered a story, unwilling to be edited even for grammar, and in general more like her Brodie creation than anyone I might want to meet.

Books: Epic Endeavors by Daniel Mendelsohn

An essay in which the author reviews three new books that take their sources from Greek myths, with varying results. There are some really interesting insights here (for instance, that Homer's Odyssey starts with the taking of a body - Briseis - and ends with the returning of a body - Hector), and two books I find interesting enough to put on my tbr - John Banville's The Infinities and David Malouf's Ransom.

April 12 -

Books: Beyond the Pale (in the TOC, The Caucasian Cause) by Kelefa Sannah

A review of two books on 'whiteness', titled 'Searching for Whiteness' by Rich Benjamin and 'The History of White People' by Nell Irvin Painter, the first a journalist and the second a historian. The essay of course expands on the topic. The author also includes what is a rather scathing discourse on the movie 'The Blind Side'.

Books: Think Small, America's quiet poet laureate

A review of work by Kay Ryan, a poet I hadn't heard of in spite of her two terms as poet laureate.

April 19 - The Journeys issue

Annals of Exploration: The Ice Balloon by Alex Wilkinson

The story of a Swede, S.A. Andree, who in 1897 decided to sail over the North Pole in a hydrogen balloon, with predictable results

Personal History: Go West by Peter Hessler

An essay on what it was like to come back to the U.S., especially the Western U.S., after 15 years in China

Letter From Istanbul: The Memory Kitchen by Elif Batuman

A food safari in which a Turkish-American seeking his roots encounters a chef, Musa Dagdeviren, determined to rescue the distinctive regional varieties of Turkish cuisine, which includes the acquisition of four turkey hens; after the first one is dispatched in the midst of the flock, "The other turkeys seemed to view these developments with mild concern. Those which had been walking in the direction of the creek casually changed course and walked elsewhere..."

Profiles by Lauren Collins

A profile of George Steinmetz, many of whose breathtaking aerial photographs we've all seen in National Geographic and elsewhere, who is in love with the Sahara desert and flies above it and other places in a single wing kite-like contraption of his own making

A Reporter At Large: Towheads

An essay on the life of tugboat pilots, and one in particular who built his own boats and works the ports in Louisiana and the Caribbean, as well as anywhere else he gets work, including a circumnavigation of the globe

A Critic At Large: Henry Luce vs Harold Ross by Jill Lepore

A book review cum article on the feud between Harold Ross, founder of the New Yorker, and Henry Luce, founder of Time, Life, Fortune, etc.

Kitty Kelley's "Oprah" by Lauren Collins

A scathing review of Kitty Kelly's rather unsuccessful bio of Oprah Winfrey

April 26 -

Not much here except for a series of letters provided by Saul Bellow to other writers, mostly about writing and its trials and surprises.

Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 16, 2021, 2:43 pm

May 3 -

Letter From Boston: Tea and Sympathy by Jill Lepore

Who owns the American Revolution

Lepore is always interesting to read. Here she explores the ties the Tea Party imagines it has to the original actions of American revolt against Britain, taking time to review the actual event, and the sometimes incoherent comments by those who came after. For instance, a man named Austin Hess protested that "All the goverment does is take my money and give it to other people", never mind that his salary is paid by the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security to study chemical and biological warfare. Paying for war, it seems, is ok. In 1973, Tea Party members and opponents demonstrated and dumped stuff in Boston Harbor again. In 2010, Sarah Palin made an appearance at the demonstration.

A Reporter At Large: Iphigenia In Forest Hills by Janet Malcolm

I would not have expected Janet Malcolm to report on a murder trial, but she does a great job of it, very cinematic in fact. It's a truly maddening story of an obsessed mother and clueless father using their daughter in the usual damaging ways in a divorce struggle, until Daddy gets killed, right on the playground in front of his daughter. Malcolm gives us the background of the families involved, both Bukharan Jews, a mysterious sect from Central Asia. She is superb in presenting the lawyers, their foibles and forcefulness, and the judge, who should probably be removed from the bench for sheer egotism. To think that this happened in Forest Hills, where life is generally quiet and boring, is mind-boggling.

I skipped an article on Neil Simon. Not in the mood.

May 10 -

Annals of Crime: Incident in Dodge City by Calvin Trillin

Another crime story by another writer I wouldn't have guessed would write it. This time the guns were used in a dry riverbed in Dodge City, and the story of who shot whom and why has do to with the racial tensions between the guys who think they are cowboys and the Hispanics who have more and more become populous in the area.

Personal History: The Last Babylift by John Seabrook

Seabrook chronicles his (and his wife's) struggle to adopt a Haitian child. The biological mother was giving up the child because she was too poor to feed her, and wanted her to have a better life. The earthquake that devastated Haiti complicated matters, with lost documents and tensions rising about the nature of international and interracial adoptions.

Profiles: The Influencer by Connie Bruck

A profile of Haim Saban, a power broker and entertainment tycoon in Los Angeles. Charming and analytic at the same time, he has dual citizenship with Israel and seems to be a dealmaker par exelence.

May 17 -

Annals of Design: The inventor's Dilemma by David Owen

An interesting piece about Saul Griffith, a designer from MIT who with others committed to a variety of inventions that might make the world better. What becomes clear is that not all the inventions were based on what would really help the perceived situation - a way to make cheap eyeglass lenses that didn't solve the real problem of testing and prescribing, for instance. It's important to know what the real problem is. Griffith and his partners in a variety of startup labs have some successes and some defeats, but efficient creation of environmentally friendly energy generation is the tough one. Over the last 15 years Griffith hasbecome more and more of an environmentalist, aware that our ever-increasing footprint is the real destroyer.

Letter from Moscow: Roulette Russian by Julia Ioffe

A teenager, Andrey Teronvskiy, creates a website to allow people to meet and chat with people you'd otherwise never meet. It catches on, of course, and Andrey parlays the success into a one-way ticket to the U.S.

Annals of Innovation: The Treatment by Malcolm Gladwell

Cancer drugs are notoriously hard to discover and test. Gladwell takes us through the difficulties, the imaginative leaps to test potential chemicals, and the long time frame of the struggle.

Profiles: The Poverty Lab by Ian Parker

Esther Duflo, a professor of development economics at M.I.T., pushes for real world experiments that might lead us to effective policies and philanthropies all over th world. She's willing to ask tough questions that go way beyond the 'feel-good' actions and conservative critiques of economic aid. Very interesting.

I skipped a review of Harvey G. Cohen's "Duke Ellington's America". I should read the book!

I also skipped a double review, of "Tocqueville's Discovery of America' by Leo Damrosch, and the novel "Parrot and Olivier in America" by Peter Carey. I suspect I should read at least an abbreviated version of Tocqueville's book first.

May 24 -

Nothing caught my interest.

May 31 -

The only article I was interested in just now was on Somerset Maugham, but the page was misprinted and unreadable. Oh well.

And that was May.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 4, 2022, 3:11 pm


June 7 -

This one's easy. Nothing of interest to report

Hm. Somethings missing.


July 5 -

I read this too long ago to report on anything

JUly 12 & 19 -

A Reporter At Large: The Mark of a Masterpiece by David Grann

I've always wondered how art authentication is really done. This story is about Martin Kemp, long considered an absolute expert on art authentication, especially of the work of Leonardo Da Vinci. He wasn't the first, of course: There was Thomas Hoving and Bernard Berenson, but Kemp was the undisputed contemporary expert. In spite of a variety of concerns, and after a long period of study, he announced that a drawing submitted to him was the real deal, a genuine Leonardo, but this time, he had more critics than usual. And with so much on the line, Kemp, a professor at Oxford decided to consult with a forensic art expert in Canada, named Peter Paul Biro, who was pioneering the examination of fingerprints on and in art work as a means of authentication.

And thereby hangs a tale of what seems to have been a real inspiration, turned into something else. The struggle to make authentication scientific, and the temptation to assist in the proof, are the topics of this excellent exploration.

20 Under 40 - Fiction

I don't normally read the short stories in the New Yorker (why not) but this one caught me.
"An Honest Exit" by Didnaw Mengestu, relates the struggle of an Ethiopian man to leave his country and establish a new life in England, as told by his son, a teacher in a New York high school. Most of it takes place in Ethiopia and in the school. Very compelling.

The Critics: The Unfolding by Meghan O'Rourke

A review of poet Ann Carson's 'Nox'. Carson is not a poet I know, but I will have to find her books.

Also reviews of Al Pacino in 'Merchant of Venice' and the movie 'The Kids are All Right'

July 26 - nothing of interest to report


August 2

Letter From Moscow: Stuck - How a city became a traffic jam, by Keith Gessen

Evidently, Moscow traffic is (or was) even worse than New York on its worse days, created by unconnected concentric circles that inevitably jam. An interesting article - glad I don't live there for yet another reason.

Annals of Medicine: Letting Go - Rethinking end-of-life treatment by Atul Gawande

By now Gawande's examination of this has become routine, but still not practiced. Effective article we should read more often.

The Critics: Is there any hope for fish? by Elizabeth Kolbert

Another essay on what we know today, and knew ten years ago, about the degradation of fish, and especially food fish populations, in the oceans. It's only gotten worse.

August 9

In a profile titled 'New York Is Killing Me', Alec Wilkinson delineates the career and survival of Gil Scott-Heron, who in 1970 recorded a spoken word piece memorably titled "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised". I am ashamed to say that I had never heard of him, although I had heard the title. Scott-Heron died a few years after this profile. I will have to watch the documentaries (there are two) and hear some of his output.

The Political scene: The Empty Chamber by George Packer

Right after the profile of Gil Scott-Heron, George Packer profiled the Senate of 2010. Bleak. It sounds like the Senate of today, except that the Democrats don't have a decisive majority (if any, considering the outliers). It's painful to read. The deliberative body de Toqueville thought he had found is not lofty anymore, of course. It is partisan and locked. At the end of the article, which details the fight for health care reform and financial reform that actually happened, Packer states
Harry Reid announced that the Senate would not take up comprehensive energy reform legislation for the rest of the year. And so climate change joined immigration, job creation, food safety, pilot training, veterans' care, campaign finance, transportation security, labor law, mine safety, wildfire management, and scored of executive and judicial appointments on the list of matters that the world's greatest deliberative body is incapable of addressing.

Sound familiar?

The Critics: books - Chan, the Man by Jill Lepore

A book review of "Charlie Chan: The Untold Story fo the Honorable Detective and his Rendezvous with American History" (which Lepore calls hilarious) by Yunte Huang; the author, himself a Chan fan, charts the various responses over time to this character from its origins in a real Hawaiian detective named Chang Apana, who seems quite legendary, through the grief and squalor of various waves of Asian immigration and the movies of Warner Oland. The book sound interesting.

August 16 & 23

Downtown Chronicles: Sleeping With Weapons by Tad Friend

A profile of John Lurie, a fixture of the 80s scene, star of 'Stranger Than Paradise', another movie I never saw but heard about, and 'Down By Law', ditto. The boy went off the rails in a very creepy way. Ill with something only he thought was long-term Lime disease, he retreated to his apartment for years, then had an explosive break with his closest friend, John Perry, and has been in hiding (not very successfully) since 2008, sure Perry is out to kill him. Very weird.

Not much else of interest here. A review of 'The Big C' which I never watched. An article on Ahmandinejad I can't quite bring myself to spend time on.

August 30

Our Far-Flung Correspondents: On the Prison Highway by Ian Frasier

No, not the one in this country, the one to the gulag in Siberia. Grim.

A Neurobiologist's Notebook: Face-Blind by Oliver Sacks

I'd read this or a similar article before, very personal, and also with alarming statistics about the occurrence of face-blindness in the population. Also very candid about why other 'types' of faces - Black, Asian, even Mid-western in my case - all 'look alike'.

Letter From India: The Laughing Guru by Raffi Khatchadourian

This was quite the thing back in 2010, and I think it is still useful to laugh when you need healing. The Indian doctor who started the fashion ended up making it a business, but that doesn't mean it's a scam.

September 6

Letter From New Zealand: Mind Game by Carl Elliott

Or The case of the killer-psychiatrist . The pieced-together story of a psychiatrist who was also a sociopath - or maybe a psychopath - and kept killing his wives. Chilling.

The Sporting Scene: Linksland and Bottle by John McPhee

as in St. Andrews and the British Open, in which I learned a little about links golf as opposed to the kind we usually play here.

Books: Stories of the Great Migration by Jill Lapore

In which Jill Lapore reviews Isabel Wilkerson's "The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of the Great Migration", as well as a history of writers in the WPA. I haven't gotten to this book yet, but it's high time I did.

I had hoped to get through 2010 by the end of 2021, but it didn't happen. I will persevere, but lightly.

September 13

Several outstanding articles!

Letter From Colorado: The Uranium Widows by Peter Hessler

In an area in Colorado in the second half of the last century, tons of uranium were mined in Colorado. No protections were used, miners were often also heavy smokers, even underground, and so when miners started dying of small-cell lung cancer, it was taken as a risk of the job and the life-style. Radium was used in medicine, and in the cold war, and was generally considered a lucrative and beneficial substance. But after the almost-catastrophe of Three Mile Island, and more understanding of the risks of uranium mining, the mines and towns were shut down, in some cases completely ripped down and scraped clean of the polluting radiation in 1986. Later studies would show that it was only the miner themselves who developed illnesses, not the women or above-ground workers, but by that time, the town was closed

People loved these towns, and when a corporation filed to open a uranium mill in the area, the division between the environmentalist communities and the local community became clear. This article brings the story up to date but not to completion. I looked up the area and mill name, and so far Colorado has forbidden the establishment of the mill.

In the meantime, we import yellowcake from Africa, and have a complicated relationship with nuclear energy even as the globe is heating up.

The Political Scene: Frat House for Jesus - the entity behind C Street by Peter J. Boyer

Oh dear. When congress people began leaving their families in their home states, it was inevitable that they would club together in Washington for the economic advantage and also the company. But many also fell in with a charismatic leader named Doug Coe, not a elected official, but an unusually low key influencer of the ethical nature of these (mostly) men. He initiated prayer breakfasts, and encouraged a kind of moral enforcement that included interventions to bring adulterers back in line with Jesus. The whole story gives me the creeps. When 'bad behavior' (i.e. adultery) couldn't be kept from the press, the C street house disbanded, but the influence seems to continue. Names of these come-to-Jesus folks include some of the most right-wing men in power over the last twenty years, and many are not in the least interested in the meek of the earth.

The Critics: A Critic at Large - Power Lines: What's behind Rhonda Byrne's spiritual empire? by Kelefa Sanneh

What's behind her is 'The Secret', a doctrine that espouses the idea that thinking about what you want (to be rich, for instance) will get you rich, cure illness through 'harmonious thought',
and, in the sequel 'The Power', that 'you are meant to have an amazing life'. According to the article, Byrne's doctirne is ruthlessly simple, and efficient, too; it promises to collapse thousands of years of faith and science into a single thought. It's a throwback to 'New Thought', popular in the late 1800s, the creed of the self. In 1910, Wallace D. Wattles published 'The Science of Getting Rich' which contains the statement "Get rich; that is the best way you can help the poor."

All this is in service of a review of the book "Bright-Sided: How Positive Thinking is Undermining America" by Barbara Ehrenreich, in which she notes that 'positive thinking has made itself useful as an apology for the crueler aspects of the market economy'. And yet, one of it's proponents, Wattles himself, foresaw the rise of the workers to create cooperative industries, elect workers to office, and take control of the economy. Of course, that falls by the wayside as the Positive Thinking movement stressed the individual, the possibility of getting rich oneself. This sounds like a really interesting book to read.

September 20 -the Style issue

Well, that was easy. out it goes.

September 27

Two interesting stories, and one on Stephen Breyer which is, of course, a little late for my agenda.

Profiles: The Unconsoled by George Packer

David Grossman, the Israeli writer, takes a walk along half the length of Israel for his 50th birthday, and ruminate on his latest novel in progress. But the loss of his son in the war with Lebanon changes the book, in English titled "The the End of the Land". This essay discusses Grossman's life, family, politics, friends, career - and his relationship to his country, about which he feels very deeply. Great profile.

A Critic At Large: His Highness by Jill Lepore

Lepore takes the excuse of Ron Chernow's new book on Washington to discuss both the man and the way he has been portrayed, and corrected, in numerous biographies over the years. (It seems that Washington wasn't as educated as we might have thought, had terrible spelling and grammar, and was frequently edited into coherence by biographers in the past!)

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 8, 2022, 6:10 pm

October 4

A gorgeous cover by David Hockney! An orange picnic table, a blue place, a green spoon. Brilliant.

Profiles: The Next Incarnation - The Dalai Lama and Tibet's Future - by Evan Osnos

A rather standard profile of an extraordinary man, who is, thankfully, still with us.

Annals of Law: The Scholar by Jeffrey Toobin

The mysterious case and career of Rachel Hall, in 1994 one of Glamour's Top Ten College Women, a Rhodes scholar, and yet somehow someone who has fallen into what seems like paranoia, or a self-con, or a real con. One of the New Yorker's stories of possible child abuse, possible lying, possible anything, and total brilliance. Very sad.

October 18

I have been rewarded this morning by two articles in the October 18, 2010 issue, one on Nick Denton and Gawker, and the other on Adam Smith.

I read the Denton article because I had assiduously ignored Gawker and its spinoffs, content to know that it was savage journalism, more interested in embarrassing people than anything else. So now I've placed its founder and its history, and filled a hole in my cultural experience, which has plenty of holes in it.

The other article was ostensibly a book review, the kind the New Yorker does which mentions the book, gives some praise or not, and then takes off on the subject. Adam Gopnik takes the publication of Nicholas Phillipson's biography Adam Smith: An Enlightened LIfe as an opportunity to lay out Smith's beliefs about markets that seem to run our current economic situation, and they are beliefs that puncture justifications for the vast income inequality we see now. Greed may be good, as some people summarize from his work, but it must be accompanied by a morality that makes a good society, that establishes fair prices, that recognizes the labor that goes into everything we see and have. I've never read either of Smith's famous books, The Wealth of Nations and The Theory of Moral Sentiment, and frankly I'm unlikely to read them unless I find a course that leads me through them, but this essay moved me.

October 25

Not much this issue, except a review of the poetry and life of Giacomo Leopardi, a highly regarded poet of the Romantic period, who probably sounds better in Italian, but is so full of gloom and despair I don't want to read him.

toukokuu 13, 2022, 5:42 pm

Well, I've let go. Except for a box in the storage locker, which I would have tossed if I were two strong people instead of just me, the old New Yorkers are gone. I should have asked Jim to come with me, but the trip was a little last minute. Trying my best to indulge my new enthusiasm for getting rid of things.