Splendid News

Gore Vidal is dead at 86.

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A Cautionary Tale

When you study Marxist economics you defect with your family to North Korea.  When you defect with your family to North Korea you find you’re in a hell hole.  When you find you’re in a hell hole you redefect to the West without your family.  When you redefect to the West without your family your family ends up in a slave labor camp.  Don’t let your family end up in a slave labor camp:  avoid Marxist thinking and learn to appreciate democratic capitalism.

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Dopey Letter of the Day (VIII)

Where else but the New York Times?

To the Editor:

The reviewer of Alice Kessler-Harris’s book about Lillian Hellman, “A Difficult Woman” (June 10), complains that it doesn’t probe “inside Hellman’s character” but instead looks at how her life, as Kessler-Harris puts it, “illuminates the world she confronted.” But this is a history book, and that is what we historians do. The reviewer complains that Kessler-Harris points out that others besides Hellman were skeptical of Zionism or defensive about the Soviet Union, but these facts are part of the context that helps us see Hellman historically. The reviewer is also still fighting the cold war, using the review to snipe at 1930s radical politics; she accuses the author of romanticizing Communism into harmlessness while she does the same with the McCarthyite purges that Hellman abhorred. The Times should have assigned this book to someone prepared to evaluate a historian’s attempt to interpret Hellman both as a creature and a defier of her world.

LINDA GORDON
New York

LINDA K. KERBER
Iowa City
The writers are professors of history at, respectively, New York University and the University of Iowa.

McCarthyism was one of the worst things that ever happened to this country:  1) it made stupid accusations against many innocent people, 2) the guilty ones it accused were no longer a danger, as the Communist Party of America was a spent force, having committed suicide after World War II, 3) it provided the permanent get-out-of-jail-free card to people whom, in a sensible country, would have been laughed out of public life forever.   People like Lillian Hellman.

 

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Pain

Happy Father’s Day!  Madame is off at shows in Texarkana this weekend.  I mowed the back three acres here at Stately Hlatky Manor.  The ground is more or less level and I use a riding mower, true, but 1) the grass was very high, requiring me to go slowly and 2) while level the ground is nothing but little lumps and holes.

Accordingly, all my vertebrae have been smashed together into a single column of agony.  At least I made the cattle egrets happy; they followed me around like I was a particularly productive bit of livestock.  I am working on a multi-part set of posts on support – or the lack of it – for classical music in the US; this should be appearing in the next few days.

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For the Want of a Better

Since there doesn’t seem to be much else worth discussing this evening, I’ll leave my readers (if any) with a couple of pictures from the show scene. 

First, Mr. Ali (Ch. Soyara’s The Force of Destiny) taking Best of Breed for a 5-point Grand Championship major from the Veteran Dog class at the Abilene KC show, handled by Gerry Thornton.  The judge is Bill Usherwood.

And here’s the Beeg Boy, handled as always by Madame, getting a big, fat Group 2 at the Denton KC show.  The judge is Gary Doerge.

 

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Microsoft’s Most Pernicious Application

Surely it’s PowerPoint, you will say.  Actually, no.  PowerPoint, while dangerous, is usually a threat only in meetings, which can usually be avoided.

The worst thing Microsoft ever foisted on the public is the Office Communicator, which allows employees to “chat” with each other using “instant messaging.”  This is roughly akin to having a particularly tedious and boring couple show up at your house unexpectely while you’re watching the ball game, plop themselves down on the sofa, start talking and never, ever leave.

How am I expected to feel?  I’m on line in a database where the connect charges per hour are similar to the fee for a senior associate at a white-shoe law firm.  Suddenly a little window pops up: “Hi, Greg!  Got a minute?”  No, go to hell.  I don’t have a minute, especially for some interminable chat session.  Right now, all my minutes right now belong to other people.  One thing I’ve learned over the years:  important to me doesn’t mean important to anyone else.  So go away, send me an e-mail, even call me (yes, considering how much I hate talking on the phone, I’d rather they do that).

Finally I turned the damn thing off.  No, I’m not online, now or ever.  Then people are astonished and disappointed.  “I tried to send you a message but it said you were off line!”  Good, that’s what I intended.  If I ever come across Office Communicator’s developer, I’m afraid I’ll have to punch them, hard.

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With Friends Like These…

The German Empire’s Iron Chancellor, Otto von Bismarck, once said that only idiots learn from their own mistakes; the intelligent learn from the mistakes of others.

It’s a good thing that Bismarck didn’t live long enough to see what a cock-up Germany has made of picking its allies for the last hundred years.  In 1914, she tied her trim frigate to Austria-Hungary’s worm-eaten galleon.  Not satisfied with giving the Austrians a blank check to go to war not just with Serbia but also with Russia, Germany compounded its error by 1) not ensuring that it wouldn’t fight a simultaneous two-front war (had Alsace-Lorraine been given autonomy at the outset, the resulting confusion in France would have given Germany time to eliminate Russia first) and 2) invading Belgium and thus bringing Britain – and the Royal Navy – into the conflict.  So Germany went to war with three countries and a useless ally she had to bail out again and again.

Fast forward 25 years.  Germany again avoidably goes to war on two fronts, again is blockaded by Britain, again gets itself cut off from raw materials and again has useless allies – Italy, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia – that it repeatedly had to bail out.

Now you think Germany would have learned by now not to tie itself to weaklings that could only drag her down.  But what they didn’t learn in war, they didn’t learn in peace.  Entering into monetary union with fiscally irresponsible PIIGS countries again threatens Germany’s prosperity and threatens to plunge Europe into an abyss.

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Failing Upward

Megan McArdle announces she’s leaving The Atlantic for Tina Brown’s Newsweek.  Maybe the money’s better, but Ms. McArdle’s professional progress has been for progressively worse publications:  she used to write for the excellent Economist, then for The Atlantic (never the same after Michael Kelly’s death) and now for Ms. Brown’s $1.00 magazine.  She’s now paired again with the increasingly demented Andrew Sullivan; is she’s his journalistic beard?

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Little Gems

Lapidary words from Aaron Haspel’s Everything:

The practical capitalist we call a capitalist; the practical anarchist we call a terrorist; the practical socialist we call a thief.

Those who attack the status quo on the grounds that nothing could be worse are usually proposing something worse.

The revolutionary is nine parts hatred and envy of the oppressor, and one part sympathy and love for the oppressed.

Leader: A megalomaniac whose luck has not yet run out.

Politicians do not place their personal interests before the national interest: they regard them as indispensable to the national interest.

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How to do it… and how not to

We are going through a time where, unhappily, a number of things around the house are breaking down, requiring bringing people in to repair them.  Those repair people are, of course, part of small businesses if not the owners themselves.  How they handle not just the repair but also the interaction with the customer says a lot and can make or break a future relationship.  Here are two examples, one good and one bad.

The bad first.  One of the two air conditioners in the kennel has gone out.  It’s in the wall about seven feet off the floor.  We brought someone in to make sure that it wasn’t a loss of coolant, a bad thermostat or something relatively easy to take care of.  He told us 1) that the compressor was shot, 2) that only brand-authorized repairmen carried that compressor for that brand and 3) asked if it was under warranty.  We called the service number for the brand.  Yes, our AC was still under warranty and to call a local repair outfit, the phone number for which they provided. 

I called and asked for service the next day as early in the morning as possible.  “We’ll have someone there by noon,” they replied.  Not what I wanted, but it would have to do.  Noon rolls around and no one has called or shown up.  I call again to ask.  Soon, I am told.  At 4:30 a repairman shows up.  I take him out to see the corpus delecti.  He indifferently mumbles that the compressor is indeed out and it will take a few days to order a new one.  And, oh, we have to get the AC out of the cabinet; they won’t do it.  It’s seven feet off the floor and impossible to remove; we still don’t have it out.  Now, if I wanted to get a new air conditioner, or if I wanted service on the other one, am I going to call that business ever again?  Not on your nelly!

Now the good.  We get our water from a well and we were losing pressure.  Considering that 2011 was one of the worst years for drought, my instant concern was that our well had run dry.  It was 5:30 in the afternoon when I called a local water well service and the owner answered.  He told me first to cut the breaker to the pump, then to open up the box with the electrical connections and brush it out thoroughly.  That did the trick:  when I reset the breaker the pump started up and the tank filled.  I profusely thanked him and asked if he wouldn’t mind coming out anyway in the morning.

He arrived early, inspected the well head, carefully explained how it all worked, reassured me that the well wasn’t going to run dry, that no one’s had and that would take several years of drought upstate for that to happen.  He told me how to hook up a generator to the well head in case of a prolonged power outage and how large of one we’d need.  He checked the pressure swich and replaced it so that the gap between a low and a full tank was 20 psi instead of the 40 psi we now had.  Though he was a busy man – he was interrupted a number of times by calls – he took his time to make sure that everything was in good order.  In short and in sum, he left a satisfied and reassured customer.  Now, if we have any further problems with the well, am I going to call him for service?  Absolutely!

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A Swell Lot of Thieves

A family portrait:  Dutch, Ilya and Carmen at the Houston KC show.  Dutch won the breed under Carole Beyerle.

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Surprised?

Between Pearland and Lake Jackson, Brazoria County in Texas is overwhelmingly rural.  We live in Iowa Colony (pop. 804) and for miles around us are rice farms and horse and cattle ranches.  Apart from the chemical plants in Chocolate Bayou and Freeport/Clute, the principal industry in Brazoria County appears to be imprisoning people.  Just the sort of place populated – in the minds of faculty-lounge leftists and HBO “comedians” – by snaggle-toothed yahoos, right?

Phillip and Shana Harris, an interracial couple, were to move into their new home in Danbury this week.  They were ready to move right out when they found “KKK” and “No Niggers” spraypainted on their driveway and garage door.  Typical of rural Texas, your bicostal urban hipster might say.

Wrong:

The family said they have been overwhelmed with support from across the rural neighborhood. They said strangers have also been reaching out to them over the phone and on Facebook.

“It feels good to cry tears of joy today that I wasn’t crying because I felt hated on. I cried because people are on our side,” said Shana Harris.

Flowers, cards and other gifts were delivered to the Harris family, letting them know that they are welcome.

During filming for a KHOU follow-up story, that outpouring was seen firsthand. A couple from the community came knocking to offer a warm welcome.

“It’s just heartbreaking. It’s just unfair. I don’t even know. It’s just so emotional that people could be so ugly,” said neighbor Jessie Smith, with tears in her eyes.

The emotions soon took over right before more neighbors came knocking.

God bless the Harrises and bless their neighbors who stood with them and behind them.

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The Foe’s Haughty Host

The usual and customary whinage about the National Anthem from the usual and whiny leftie Bill Press (via Joe Newby):

“But it’s an abomination,” he said.  “First it ranges two octaves [actually an octave and a half] most people can only do kind of one octave. I mean when you think about it, it’s bombs bursting in air rocket’s red glare it all kinds of, you know a lot of national anthems are that way, all kinds of military jargon and the land there’s only one phrase ‘the land of the free’ which is kind of nice and ‘the home of the brave?’ I don’t know.”

Ever notice that this kind of stuff always, but always, comes from “progressives”?  The sort of people who anyway won’t stand up when it’s played?  The guff about the unsingability of “The Star-Spangled Banner” is a MacGuffin:  would they look more kindly on the more singable “Battle Hymn of the Republic”?  No, it’s meant to distract people from their real objection, that this country, its history and promise is honored.  So embarrassing!  What will the Europeans think?

Then there’s the secondary objection of militarism, not surprising from a group that thinks all those bombs bursting in air is too-too icky.  Yet I doubt any of them object to the bloodthirsty words in La Marseillaise, because its from (*eyes flutter*) the French:

To arms, to arms, ye brave!
The avenging sword unsheath,
March on, march on!
All hearts resolved
On victory or death!

What progressives want, if we’re going to have one at all, is the kind of National Anthem that celebrates what, to them, made this country not something to be proud of but tolerable:  community organizers, gender-studies professors, assistant directors of diversity and outreach, mimes.  “We know we’re not as good as France/We’ve failed in every way…”

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But We Meant Well!

Free Press Houston, one of those progressive newspapers available at urban diners, supermarkets and other bastions of captialist oppression, sponsors The Free Press Houston Summer Fest, bravely saying that:

A recycling program, carbon off-set credits and a partnership with the Texas Campaign for the Environment are implemented to help this festival become a greener experience.

Too bad that none of the attendees seems to have read that little snip:

A record turnout at this past weekend’s Free Press Summer Fest has translated into quite an eyesore for outdoor enthusiasts. On Monday evening, it still looked like an explosion of trash at Eleanor Tinsley Park and beyond.

Cleanup crews were working day and night to make a dent in it, but the owner of independent contractor Washamerica admited it was more trash than he expected…

“It seems like they were really good at organizing volunteers for the show. You kind of wonder, did they drop the ball on the post organization for the cleanup,” said Kate Whitehouse, who often jogs through the area.

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