Thursday, January 19, 2017

A Struggle For Power

I'm reading Theodore Draper's A Struggle For Power: The American Revolution.  Somebody recommended it to me.

A Struggle For Power is a 'startlingly original and magisterial account of the causes and nature of the American Revolution.'

Chapter One is the Seven Years War and what the implications were for 'the Colonies.'  After an unpromising beginning it began to become evident in 1760 that Great Britain would 'win' the American version of the Seven Years War.  A 'pamphlet war' then began as various pamphleteers attempted to make a case for what the spoils should be.  The French would cede Canada OR Guadalupe, their largest 'sugar island' in the West Indies.  Economically Guadalupe was probably worth more but Canada had economic benefits too and immense territory.  And was contiguous. 

Much of the debate revolved around which would keep the colonies 'in line.'  Leave the French in Canada to keep the colonies dependent on 'the mother country' for defense?  Franklin, living in England at the time, was among those arguing that there was no need to worry about the loyalties of the colonists.

Chapter Two looks back to the origins of the colonies, starting with Jamestown, and the fact that they were corporate, for-profit, expeditions.  Their charters granted them a great deal of autonomy and the fact that they were left to raise and spend revenues as needed and as they were able created self-sufficient political entities.

I'll begin Chapter Three tonight ...

Friday, January 6, 2017

Books I Read In 2016

The Boo, Pat Conroy

From the Ruins of Empire: The Intellectuals Who Remade AsiaPinkaj Mishra

One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America,
Kevin M. Kruse

The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin,
H. W. Brands

Einstein: His Life and Universe, Walter Isaacson

Once In A Great City: A Detroit Story,David Maraniss

Being Nixon: A Man Divided, Evan Thomas

Set Point, Mark Porter

John Lennon: The Life, Philip Norman

Duel On The Cinders, Mark Porter

FDR, Jean Edward Smith

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Grays 45's 2016 Season

The Grays began the 2016 MABL season with high expectations. Champions in 2014 they felt that one bad day against the eventual champion Bears had cost them the prize in 2015.

A 10-6 win in the season-opener against the defending regular season champion Crawfords showed them to be clicking on all cylinders. In game two however they encountered a new hurdle: the expansion Sand Crabs, who humbled the short-handed Grays, 13-2.

This would be an unfortunate theme to the Grays' season as they moved out to a 6-2 first half, both losses coming against the new powerhouse. Then injuries began to take a toll. Offensive MVP Tom Hopkins missed the entire second half with an oblique injury and Pitcher/Shortstop Greg Gaber played as well as he could with a painful groin pull. Left-handed Pitcher/Catcher and big hitter Dave Keene missed eight games with a back injury which eventually required surgery.

Still the remaining players soldiered on, augmented by the return of Kevin Mack who missed the first half due to work obligations. As the tournament began they appeared to be hitting their stride again and they knocked off the Bears (now called the Brewers) in a rematch of last season's semi-final game, 11-6. But waiting for them in the championship round was their new nemesis, the Sand Crabs, who had nearly run the table in the regular season, going 15-1. On that final Sunday the Sand Crabs showed why they were undisputed 2016 champions, scoring five runs in the first two innings and holding the Grays to just two hits in a 7-0 whitewashing.

High points of the season were their 5-1 stretch from May 8th through July 10th and some stellar individual performances, including:

Bob Schwalb's 31 hits and 18 stolen bases in 17 games
Glenn Griffin's 18 hits and 22 steals in 16 games
Greg Gaber's 16 RBI in 16 games
Dave Keene and Andy Sutherland, brothers-in-law who each hit over .400, and finally
Milt Friend who completed his 73rd season of playing baseball, and finally called it a career at age 80

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Republicans: Not Automatically Better Than Democrats (I Mean, Come On, Seriously?)

Maybe read this first.  Mine is rebuttal to it.

http://host.madison.com/wsj/opinion/column/ken-berg-the-case-for-john-kasich-is-strong-in/article_71a9ab93-950d-5b80-9a98-3f870182f7f8.html

In Thursday's guest Column, The case for John Kasich is strong in Wisconsin, the author's 'important point' is nominating a candidate who can " ... bring a Republican into the White House after eight long years of disappointment in Barack Obama."  I suppose this makes sense to someone who takes it as a given that a Republican is always better than a Democrat for president.

I was born at the end of the Eisenhower administration, the last of a certain type of Republican president.  Since then we've had eight years of Democrats, JFK and LBJ, who set us on the path to the moon and back and kicked off a technological revolution the benefits of which still redound to us today, and The Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts.  And some questionable decisions involving Vietnam.

Following that we got eight years of one Republican who initially doubled down on Vietnam, despite having sensed the mood of the electorate and campaigned as the peace candidate, and his hand-picked successor, whose principal 'accomplishment' was to pardon his predecessor, who had resigned under threat of impeachment, for any and all crimes committed during his time as president.


Four years of a Democrat who at least tried to get us pointed in the right direction again, energy-wise and in world affairs.  Twelve years of Republicans who assured us that we had been on the right path all along and pulled out the credit card so we could have low taxes and high spending, and got too much credit for 'winning the Cold War.'  Eight years of a Democrat who, personal peccadilloes aside, oversaw a nicely growing economy and pursued a fairly non-interventionist foreign policy.  And eight years of a Republican on whose watch the economy crashed and who started an ill-defined and horribly executed global war that to this point has accomplished a lot more bad then good.

And now 'eight long years (actually still closer to seven) of disappointment' in the Democrat who has overseen a steadily improving economy and whose big 'failure' is that he hasn't single-handedly turned the world into a peaceful utopia. 

And yet still I should vote Republican, no matter what?

Thursday, February 25, 2016

They Didn't Print the Last Letter, So ...

So that means I can send another one in already.  So I did:


I would like to ask anyone who defends the idea of 'originalism' regarding the Supreme Court's interpretation of the Constitution if they also feel that way about a fundamental American idea, expressed in America's other founding document, The Declaration of Independence.  Second paragraph, first line.  'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all MEN are created equal ... '

Are we SURE we don't want to allow interpretation of our founding documents to evolve over time?

Sunday, February 14, 2016

About Time For ...

... a new letter to the editor, isn't it?


Two letters in Sunday's WSJ attempt to 'solve' the 'labor shortage' issue in the U.S.  One proposes to create 'private labor offices' south of the border to funnel documented workers northward.  The other calls for a 'civilian draft,' to legally require the draftees to do the less desirable jobs. 

Is there a compelling reason why we can't just allow the price to 'float' to the intersection of supply and demand?  Is that 'un-American,' or something?  If it's 'wrong' to artificially boost wages in the fast food industry, why is it OK to artificially suppress them in other fields?  Roofing work is mentioned in the second letter.  Physical labor, out in the elements, with an element of danger.  'The market' says higher wages are called for.  Who is it that's looking to game the market?  And why?


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Possible Next Read

This caught my eye on 'my' Amazon page so I clicked on it to see what it was all about.

Despicable Meme: The Absurdity and Immorality of Modern Religion

Turns out it's only available on Kindle so I guess I won't be getting it. Sounds interesting though.

"Despicable Meme is D. Cameron Webb’s brief but biting assault on the wide spectrum of religiosity that dominates 21st century America, from the hateful and anti-intellectual dogma of the Christian Right to the whitewashed progressivism of religious moderates. It is also a fascinating and humbling journey into the heart of the universe's most mind-numbing wonders.

"Drawing on recent insights from cosmology and evolution, Despicable Meme paints a vivid portrait of a cosmos unlike anything ever imagined by the provincial, human-centered faiths of the past – a universe of countless worlds spread across unfathomable distances and times, and where, on at least one of those worlds, the slow march of time would combine with the purposeless mechanisms of chemistry and physics to create a being capable of believing that he alone is the reason for it all.

"With piercing intelligence and candor, Despicable Meme exposes the folly of that conceit and dispenses with the widespread but utterly improbable notion of a personal creator. But it saves its harshest criticism for the vapid accommodationism of religious liberals, those who unknowingly or uncaringly give cover to the misogynistic, racist, homophobic paranoia of the fanatics by refusing to condemn, or quietly tolerating, the outlandish and immoral doctrines that lie festering at the center of their own “moderate” faiths.

"Despicable Meme is not only a blistering condemnation of radical fundamentalism, it is an impassioned appeal to the rest of us to once and for all abandon the superstitions of the religion we were raised in and embrace the beauty of an endlessly wondrous, but godless, universe."