Monday, November 22, 2010

Random and unconnected thoughts

* If John Boehner, incoming Republican Speaker of the House, thinks he's going to stick a finger in Nancy Pelosi's eye by flying commercial, he had goddam well better go through Airport Peep-and-Grope like the rest of us. Every single time he flies.

* Why do so many know-nothings deny the human impact on global warming despite the huge, huge preponderance of scientific opinion on the other side? Are they thinking only of short-term profits rather than taking the long view? Or are they just aggressively anti-intellectual?

* John Buchan's 1915 novel The Thirty-Nine Steps, one of the prototypes of the spy thriller, is still remarkably readable -- and free for the downloading on one's Kindle. There's a little too much Scots dialect wha hae muckle glee, and the hero Richard Hannay is a chip off the old Empire, but the action is crisply modern.

* The year's best book is Isabel Wilkerson's The Warmth of Other Suns, about the great African-American migration north and west away from Jim Crow in the South between World War I and the 1970s. Bigoted whites who think civil rights are over won't read it, but they should. I thought I was enlightened, but Wilkerson astonished me.

* What am I reading on the Kindle now? A surprise best-seller, the new edition of The Autobiography of Mark Twain from the University of California Press. Before getting to the meat, one has to plow through chapters and chapters about the multiple abortive attempts Twain made to write his memoirs. This is only intermittently interesting to a non-academic like me, but it is a scholarly work. (The tree-book, the first of three volumes, is $35 list; $19.22 on, and the e-book is $9.99.)

* I am going to miss Christopher Hitchens, the world's most likable intellectual bomb-thrower.

* Roger Ebert writes the best blog anywhere, and it's not about the movies. He has a generous and expansive mind, and always displays a graceful humility.

* I crave the new Pentax K-5 camera but not its $1500 street price, which for me is about $300 too high.

* I have at long last become interested in local politics because of the city of Evanston's misguided and maladroit attempt to kill its local branch libraries. The rise of the Evanston Library Friends to save them from a shortsighted city manager and council has been an object lesson in the power of grassroots anger in this liberal community.

* I think I'll get out my G scale garden train set -- a loop of track, a locomotive and two passenger cars -- and lay it out on the basement floor to play with between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Let people laugh at me -- what do I care?

* Even I am a better dancer than Bristol Palin, and I've got a bad knee and a bad back. Let's face it: the fix is in.

* Joy is a big yellow dog who just wants a little loving.

* Consternation is learning that a red squirrel has broken into your summer cabin on Lake Superior, 420 miles away.

* Despair is realizing that May 1 (when we can go back up to the summer cabin) is still five long months away.


  1. The only solution is to become a full time Yooper, Henry.

  2. Frank, don't think I've thought long and hard about that!

  3. there's your answer:

  4. ALL members of Congress should be required to go through the same security we do. Buck naked. No exceptions.

  5. The people who deny global warming do it for reasons of political ideology: If Al Gore says it exists and most liberals agree with him, they say Al Gore is crazy and all us liberals are idiots.

    I recently posted what I thought to be an interesting prespective on the global warming issue:

  6. Or short of going up there full-time (and in the noble tradition of many part-time, long distance lakeshorites of the snowy past) find a trusted local caretaker who will plow open your driveway, take down the shutters, and start a roaring blaze in the fireplace in the middle of January just before you pull in from Chicago. Then, settle in for a couple of weeks to simply gaze out on the lake at the stunning rage of a pounding northwestly crashing waves against the icebergs - then days of diametrically opposed stillness bringing with it seamingly unending lake effect snowflakes lazily piling up into feet of the fluffy white stuff, amazingly azure blue skies, blinding white snow, and star filled nights. After a piping hot cup of morning coffe, strap on a pair bearpaw snowshoes and follow the tracks of a weasel that is itself tracking its breakfast rabbit through spruce and cedar with branches bent heavy with the new fallen snow. And do the Heikki Lunta snow dance, shouting SNOW,SNOW! You will experience an entirely different side of the Lake from any you've experienced before - and Hogan too. Seriously.

  7. Onion, whoever you are (and I have my suspicions) that just is NOT FAIR. It is way too enticing.

  8. Never lived in your neck of the woods. But from stories I've been told about the winters in northern Michigan it has to be frustrating to have something as nice as a cabin by a lake that can't be accessed any time you want.

    Your comment about your G Gauge RR in your basement brought back memories of my youth when we'd set my Lionel O gauge up in the basement when I was a kid. I think I rec'd my set the Christmas of 1947 when I was seven years old. No basements around these parts so it sits and stews in a box I check on periodically.

    Have a great holiday season! Chuck

  9. Green onion forgot the Souna at the end of the hike.

  10. Indeed, Frank! I guess Heikki (er, Henry) would have to sieze the neighbor's log sauna in a kind of Winter War reenactment. Curling wood smoke rising from the chimney would certainly set a fine scene, and a late night roll-in-the-snow to accompany the sauna would be perfection - but the image of two moons casting shadows on the midnight snow does seem a bit unsettling.

  11. You guys will stop at nothing to make me feel homesick.

  12. The smoke is curling, the ground is white, the Lake is calm and the moon is full.
    Eat your heart out Henry.

  13. No, no, this is not some evil enticement, Henry. Seriously, you are uniquely positioned to take advantage of an idyllic winter cabin-on-the-big-lake experience for a manageable length of time. You should sieze the opportunity. Then, either check it off the bucket list -- or keep on doin' it.

  14. ...oh, and a happy Thanksgiving to all youz Kisor guys!