Categories
Poetry

Poppies in July

by Sylvia Plath

Categories
Poetry

Tulips

by Sylvia Plath

Categories
Poetry

Daddy

by Sylvia Plath

Categories
Quotes

It is our duty as men and women to proceed as though the limits of our abilities do not exist. – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Categories
Books

Andrew Johnson: A Biography by Hans Trefousse

 Didn’t take notes on this book (!)Johnson was a fool. Took over from Lincoln, tried to back the South in a foolishly strong-armed manner. Made a lot of enemies, most notably Thaddeus Stevens.  

Categories
Poetry

Mirror

by Sylvia Plath

Categories
Poetry

And You As Well Must Die, Beloved Dust

by Edna St. Vincent Millay

Categories
Poetry

Ashes Of Life

by Edna St. Vincent Millay

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Poetry

I think I should have loved you presently

by Edna St. Vincent Millay

Categories
Poetry

Dirge Without Music

 by Edna St. Vincent Millay
Categories
Films

Dunkirk

Got decent reviews in both the  Washington Post and the New Yorker. Not from me. Yuck. 

Categories
Poetry

First Fig

by Edna St. Vincent Millay

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Poetry

Lament

by EDNA ST. VINCENT MILLAY

Categories
Books

A. Lincoln: A Biography – Ronald C. White

A very long biography of Lincoln. More detail than I needed.

A few things stood out. Lincoln’s early study of the the speeches of ministers and politicians paid off down the road. Without his writing and  oratory ability he never would have been president. He was a very shrewd politician, knowing exactly when  the time was right to move. Finally, he always spent time working out all the angles on an issue before he made a decision. 

Categories
Poetry

City Trees

by EDNA ST. VINCENT MILLAY

Categories
Films

The Big Sick

Nice little movie, based on a true story.  Plot: comedian from traditional Indian family meets white (very) girl. They fall in love, she becomes seriously ill, he realizes he’s an idiot, they get married. Lot of funny culture-wars type humor. Light weight, but very charming. Maybe fifteen minutes too long. 

Categories
Poetry

What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why

by  EDNA ST. VINCENT MILLAY

Categories
Quotes

A test of what is real is that it is hard and rough. Joys are found in it, not pleasure. What is pleasant belongs to dreams. –┬áSimone Weil

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Books

The History of France – W. Scott Haines

Short interesting history of France.  Read for our trip… 

Categories
Books

James Buchanan: The American Presidents Series – Jean Baker

Buchanan was from Pennsylvania, at the time the second most populous state in the country.  He came from a relatively well-off family, and was able to attend college, Dickinson. As most future politicians at the time did, he study law after college. He served in Congress, and held many posts for various administrations, most notably as Polk’s Secretary of State.

His presidency was a disaster. Most historians think he was too generous in his treatment of the South, where most of his support came from. He completely botched the slavery issue in Kansas by siding way too heavily with the South. He also was weirdly inactive when the South succeeded, basically doing nothing, claiming the Constitution didn’t allow him to act. Buchanan is often ranked as the worst president in US history (and that’s saying something).

Categories
Poetry

The Unknown Citizen

 by W.H. Auden

Categories
Books

Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

An autobiography of a guy from a poor, sometimes violent, very dysfunctional Appalachian family. Spent his childhood in the backwoods of Kentucky, and his teen years the Ohio Rust Belt. Joined the Marines after high school, which along with his grandparent’s guidance, helped set him on the right track. Went on to graduate from Ohio State and then Yale Law School.

The book was a New York Times bestseller. Vance is now a regular on the talking-head circuit and probably has made a shit-load of money. Good for him.

It was an interesting, easy read. I can’t say I was particular stunned by what he had to say. His description of his rough upbringing was interesting, even for a hillbilly such as myself who is is somewhat familiar with how it goes. His thoughts on what how families stuck in this type of environment could be helped are not terribly insightful. Basically, the government can’t do much, they need to be like him and pull themselves up by their bootstraps (not realistic if you ask me).

I’m glad I read it. I preferred Limbo: Blue-Collar Roots, White-Collar Dreams by Alfred Lubrano,  which dealt similar subject manner in a more thoughtful manner. 

 

Categories
Books

Franklin Pierce – 14th President

Pierce was the fourteen president of the United States. He was a Democratic from New Hampshire.

Ironically, although one if his highest priorities was keeping the Democratic party together, he ended up splitting it apart. By supporting the negation of the Compromise of 1820, which marked a line across the country above which slavery was outlawed, he reignited the issue of slavery across the country. “Bleeding Kansas” was one of the unfortunately consequences.

During the next election only seven of the 44 Democratic congressman were re-elected. Republican James Buchanan, an even worse leader, was elected next. 

Categories
Films

La Vie en Rose

Started out promising, but eventually just repeated scene after scene of Edith in a drunken rage, screaming and yelling. Surely she was more interesting than that. Perhaps they should have focused more on the music.  

Didn’t enjoy this one. Didn’t even make it to the end.  

Categories
Books

Millard Fillmore by Robert Rayback

A very sympathetic  treatment of Fillmore. Book was too long, but I certainly learned a lot. Millard was (according to this book) a very principled man who put country over personal glory.  Things didn’t work out exactly the way he wanted, but that’s not extraordinary. 

Fillmore was a Whig. The Whigs were sort of  the Democrats of the day, believers in a government that invests, helps, and stabilizes the country. Mostly anti-slavery, but they also attracted some members from the South, which allowed them to build a strong enough coalition to prevail, at least on occasion.

Besides the Compromise of 1850, which Fillmore was instrumental in making viable, he mostly was involved in foreign policy. Lots of “stuff” happened in Hawaii, Japan, China, Nicaragua, with Britain,  etc.

Fillmore tried to run again as the head of the  “Know Nothing” party, but was defeated.

In the mid-1850 the U.S. experience a time very similar to today: strong anti-immigrant, anti-Catholic sentiments, and a party (the  Know Nothings”) that took full advantage of it.