What Happened?

I’m back.

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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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