by EDNA ST. VINCENT MILLAY
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. – Simone Weil
Short interesting history of France. Read for our trip…
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).
by W.H. Auden
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.
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.
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.
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.
By the same director/writer as my favorite movie of last year, Manchester by the Sea.
Love his writing. Really packs an emotional whallop. I love movies that are both tragic and funny.
I liked this movie quite a bit. Like all her work, I have trouble fitting it all together. What exactly she’s trying to say? What is the theme that ties it all together? These questions I have trouble answering.
On the other hand, her work is incredibly inventive, and I love the combination of music, words, and images. Five stars.
This movie really didn’t do much for me. It was ok, but certainly not my choice for Best Picture. Standard “it’s tough to be poor, black, gay, and from a dysfunctional home” film. Done reasonably well I guess. Second half was slow. Nothing really made it standout to me. I wouldn’t watch it again.
Born in Virginia, raised in Kentucky. Sporadic education due to take of school on frontier. Made a name for himself in military. Nicknamed “Old Rough and Ready”. Lead a series of mostly successful battles during the Mexican War. Not much of a planner, but good at improvising.
Ran for president – reluctantly – as a Whig. He would be the last Whig to be elected president. Died just a few months into his term, perhaps due to food poisoning.
Best tech book I’ve ever read. Starts from the beginning, doesn’t skip steps. Admittedly, it does make it a chore to wade thru all the detail,some of which is already known. However, I’d rather be a little bored than totally baffled.
Saw Hidden Figures yesterday.
The history was interesting. A group of black women working at NASA in the “computing” department. One in particular, Katherine Jackson, played a significant role in solving the mathematical problems associated with the project.
The movie itself though is not so great. Boring script, very predictable plot, cliche-ridden, and teeth-grinding bad acting.
Good movie about the Catholic Church child abuse scandal. Centers around the investigation of the Boston Globe which to exposed the church. Watched it, ironically, on the day our esteemed president declared that “the press is the enemy of the American people”.
by Carl Sandburg
Berkun’s discusses his year working at Automattic, leading teams designing enhancements to WordPress.com. He describes the unique culture of Automattic, the company behind the most popular by far content management system in the world.
In (very) short, he believes the very non-hierarchical, remote-centric, small team, informal culture at Automattic is the general model of the future work office environment.
Directed and written by Hannes Holm. Swedish.
I liked it. Sort of the non-violent swedish version of Clint Eastwood’s Grand Torino. The movie is full of cliches, and the heart-warming ending can be seen coming from the very beginning. Still, the movie is highly enjoyable. The characters are believable, and their relationships feel right. It also has more than it’s share of laughs.
A Democrat, Polk was a disciple of Andrew Jackson. He promised to serve only one-term in order to placate rivals that he knew coveted the presidency. Not a strong leader and lacking charisma, he nevertheless succeeded in bringing about all four of the main items on his agenda:
- Lowering tariffs
- stabling the currency
- acquiring the Oregon territory
- expanding country to the Pacific
He may not have done it exactly to plan – instead starting a war with Mexico – but he did it.
Poor guy died four months after leaving office.
The poetry written for the film didn’t really make it with me. I missed the humor of some of the older movies.
Overall I really like it.
Basic story – undone by slavery, of which he was a avid supporter. Achievements: Border with Maine/Canada, trade agreement with China, annexation of Texas, Tyler Doctrine in Pacific (which eventually lead to annexation of Hawaii).
Believed expanding the borders would keep nation together, and eventually would lead to the end of slavery (weird idea). First Vice President to become President, played a large role in setting precedence that VP would become Pres. for rest of term. Constitution was unclear on that point.
He was a Whig, but big on “states rights”, like his idols Jefferson and Madison. Caused him to become very unpopular within his own party. Was not even nominated for a run at a second term.
Saw “The Salesman”, written and directed by Asghar Farhadi, a well-know Iranian director working inside Iran.
My impression was that the movie took way too long to get to the point. The last half-hour was engrossing as the movie worked it’s way to the climax. I suppose the theme was revenge vs. forgiveness, the husband taking the side of revenge, the wife forgiveness.
Farhadi also made acclaimed The Separation, which I did’t like so much, and About Elly, which I did.
Been trying to see some of the “big” movies of the year. List is roughly order of preference (best to worst).
- Manchester by the Sea
- Hacksaw Ridge
- Certain Women
Also saw Gimme Danger, Jarmusch’s documentary about Iggy Pop.