28 September 2007
22 September 2007
I am not going to read it just yet, I want to savor it. But I did want to make sure I got a first edition of the book before it was too late.
A friend of mine in New York gave me a copy of Patchett's novel Bel Canto back in 2001. I loved the opera singer angle and thouroughly enjoyed the book. I followed up Bel Canto by reading every other book by her that I could get my hands on. They are all good. One of the great things about Patchett is that she is a writer who writes about things other than becoming or being a writer. Don't get me wrong I love reading about literary lives, struggling or otherwise, but I am quite impressed by authors who write about worlds that are not noticeably autobiographical.
And I think she is as cute as a button. She looks like the kind of person with whom I want to sit in a cozy cafe drinking hot cocoa and gossiping. I have no idea why I think so. Maybe she just reminds me of friends I have had in my life over the years.
Now do yourself (and Ann) a favor and go out and buy one or two (or all) of her books!
So, rather than focus on the grumpies, I am just going to post these lovely photos we took while we were in Australia. No prizes for guessing the building.
15 September 2007
(Well, to be entirely accurate, you need to insert "the New York Times" in place of "MyPorch" in the paragraph above. And I haven't actually read or even seen the book, but why should that matter?)
At any rate, the excerpts that I read in the Times this morning, had me feeling alternately smug and furious. Smug because Greenspan is finally confirming what some of us have been screaming for years--that President Bush and the former Republican Congress did their best to bankrupt this country with reckless tax cuts and runaway spending. And furious because we only get to hear these things when it is too damn late. I know that Greenspan was in a more difficult position needing to remain as apolitical as possible, but surely he could have done something to inject some reality into W's twisted brand of voodoo economics.
Still, we can add Greenspan's post-employment, post-8 million dollar book advance critique of Bush's recklessness to a long line of former officials who only found their tongues and their spines after leaving office. Just think if Christie Todd Whitman had actually done her job as the head of EPA rather than wait until she was out of office to take a stand. Just think if Colin Powell had done the right thing while he was Secretary of State.
But then again I shouldn't blame these folks too much. Anyone willing to think rationally should have understood the damage being done to our country on any number of issues without the help of this kind of memoir. It didn't take a genius to understand what the Bush/Cheney administration and the Republican Congress were doing to the U.S., yet the electorate sent these jokers back to Washington in 2002 and 2004.
Greenspan saved his highest praise for President Clinton, noting his keen interest in economic issues and for his "consistent disciplined focus on long-term economic growth."
But again, it doesn't take an oracle to figure out the intellectual and ethical bankruptcy of George W. Bush and Company. In the 2000 election everyone wanted a president they could have a beer with. I didn't. I wanted a president like Bill Clinton or Al Gore, one that would show up for the job and take it seriously. The press and Ralph Nader told everyone that on policy, Bush and Gore were the same person. I knew better than that. I even did a Nader Trader vote. A friend of mine in Minnesota was going to vote for Nader because she believed the BS. Living in the Democratic safe state of New York at the time, I promised to vote for Nader if she voted for Gore in Minnesota which was threatening to vote red. Why were so many people fooled? Within weeks of coming to power Bush rolled back several environmental protections that showed just how different he was from Al Gore. Thanks Ralph.
In the 2004 election I spent a lot of time in Pennsylvania and Ohio knocking on doors for John Kerry. In the five days leading up to the election I was pounding the pavement in Cleveland to boot this buffoon out of office. Again, one didn't need tell-all memoirs to understand the damage Bush and Co. were doing to the country. I was amazed at the number of people who, despite lots of evidence to the contrary, believed that Bush was doing a good job in the war on terror and a good job in Iraq. We knew in 2004 just how bad things were going on both fronts so why were these people so confused or blind? I wonder if they still are?
As for Mr. Greenspan, it appears that his book was written with rose colored glasses. Not about the Presidents he served with, but about his own culpability in shaping economic events. He has given himself a pass on many things including being clueless about the subprime mortgage implosion. Well, he wasn't clueless, he chose to ignore warnings that would have clouded his rose colored view of the "free" market. I know that on at least one occasion he was warned about the securitization of the mortgage industry and the potential impacts that that could have on homeowners, the mortgage industry, and the economy. He was dismissive to say the least.
I don't take any comfort in being able to say "I told you so". Too many people have died and too many truly bad things have happened to our treasury, our Constitution, and our planet over the last six years to feel any joy in having been right. My only hope is that people will wake up enough to think and vote rationally in 2008. Forget about folksy, we need someone with a brain capable of more than just sustaining vital functions and basic motor skills.
03 September 2007
We were also very lucky and had pefect weather everywhere we went. The Austrlian winter (North American summer) is definitely the time to go to the Great Barrier Reef. (In the Australian summer the GBR gets pretty hot and the stinging jelly fish are apparently everywhere.) Melbourne with its chilly, fall-like temps was a wonderful change from summer in DC and the weather in Sydney was perfect for walking around and enjoying the city. The winter shadows also made for some beautiful views throughout our trip.
The quality of life in Australia makes it a little hard to come back to the crumbling, crime-ridden streets of the 'richest' country in the world. Australians may be taxed to high heaven, but at least they have something to show for it.
Now if I could only get over this killer jet lag...
There was a lot more old building stock than we expected to see in Sydney. The neighborhoods surrounding the central business district were felt like a combination of San Fransciso, New York, and Portland. Pleasant and walkable with lots of shops and cafes everywhere.
02 September 2007
The city is like an amalgam of the best of the best of North America and Europe. A lot that is shiny and new integrated with a lot that is quaint and old. But it has its own distinctive style. The language, cultural references, flora and fauna, and temporal and geographic isolation from North America and Europe make it seem like some odd, wonderful, parallel universe. Things seem very familiar yet very different at the same time.