Sunday, January 18, 2009

Good stuff . . . and bad

Ten items of bright writing that captured my attention in the last few weeks (along with a front page that both amused and appalled me):

Gasoline marched toward $5 a gallon, turning Hummers into white elephants with running boards . . .

James G. Cobb, New York Times, Dec. 31, 2008

. . . Rumors began flying last Tuesday morning that Blagojevich was preparing to stick a potato in the exhaust pipe of those demanding his resignation by appointing Burris.

Eric Zorn, Chicago Tribune, Jan. 6, 2009

The happy StairMaster president is on his way to a mansionette in Dallas, to be the decider of where to put the sofa. His successor, Mister Mambo, has cast his lot with Harvard and Yale and old Clinton hands, and soon enough, Lord knows, they will get the first of many comeuppances, and their shining faces will be chopfallen.

Garrison Keillor,, Jan. 7, 2009

The prefix for trillion, as we know from super-computer lingo, is “tera.” I propose a neologism for our times: terafy. (V. tr.: To instill fear by mentioning the US deficit.)

Christopher Buckley, The Daily Beast, Jan. 14, 2009

. . . As we hurry through the streets, like dog-paddling through a liquid hydrogen slushie, we might remember the tranquility with which the explorers of a century ago went to their frigid deaths.

Neil Steinberg, Chicago Sun-Times, Jan. 16, 2009

Political thrillers are like fish fingers: squarish, stodgy, reliable.

The Economist, in a review of Leonard Downie's The Rules of the Game, Jan. 17th-23rd, 2009

A couple of nights ago, dusk brought a different illusion. The clouds had been hammered flat. But in the last few moments of afternoon, the sun slid below the overcast, coming out strong and red along the rim of the horizon.

Verlyn Klinkenborg, New York Times, Jan. 18, 2009

. . . the Fox News building . . . is the only refuge New York Republicans have. Walking into Fox is like slipping into a warm bath.

S.E. Cupp, Washington Post, Jan. 18, 2009

The chattering class saw Dubya as a walking style crime in a cowboy suit.

Debra J. Saunders, San Francisco Chronicle, Jan. 18, 2009

Scrabble is both mindless and cerebral, which may account for its appeal to writers -- it gives you a chance to push words around without having to make them mean something.

Judith Thurman, The New Yorker, Jan. 19, 2009


  1. What's so amusing/absurd about trying to control geese?

  2. Basically, it can't be done, except on a very temporary basis.

    Golf courses hire teams of border collies to chase geese away, and they just go to another golf course, to be chased right back. Border collies aren't exactly the solution for Manhattan. Nor are anti-aircraft emplacements equipped with shotguns.

    The trouble is birds will always be with us. Besides geese, there are ducks, pelicans, clouds of starlings, swarms of pigeons, etc.

    As a private pilot I've had close encounters with vultures and starlings. I've watched as my airport hired teams of hunters to decimate resident geese. New ones just come in to replace the old.

    I've seen a Bonanza whose pilot managed to land his airplane after it hit an eagle, smashing a deep hole into the airplane's wing.

    I've had to hold on a runway threshold for long minutes while swooping swarms of thousands of starlings blocked the airspace in front of me.

    As has been said about the forest and its animals, birds were there first and we are recent interlopers.

    There's no real solution to bird strikes -- at least, no one has come up with one yet. We have to learn to live with them and hope for the best.

  3. Henry,

    Maybe (or maybe not) off topic under "Good stuff . . . and bad", this is just a reminder that that Heikinpäivä (Henry's Day) festivities are under way in the Copper Country this week - culminating in the wife-carrying and boot-throwing events on Saturday. More details can be found at Then click on "games" for some additional insight on the afore mentioned events if you and the Lady Friend are inclined to take up the race. It's rumored that the wife's weight in beer is the traditional first prize.

  4. Hmm, the Lady Friend has shed a good deal of excess poundage lately (as I should) so although the wife-carrying contest is closer to a possibility for me, perhaps the reward isn't what it once migh have been.

    All the same, it does my heart good to see a holiday named after Henry. We are still living down Henry VIII.

  5. I have to admit being more amused than appalled by the Post cover. What ever would we do without the New York Post?