Weekend Edition: 9-18

Irony of the Week

Nonbookish Linkage

Bookish Linkage

  • For the second year in a row, the Festival of Books will be entirely online

The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance—it is the illusion of knowledge.

Daniel Boorstin, The Washington Post (Jan. 24, 1989)

Weekend Edition: 9-11

Interesting Reading in the Interweb Tubez

  • Every Dog Is a Rescue Dog (“They enlarge our sympathies and sweeten our disposition. They pry open the day when it balls up into a little fist.”)
  • The Third Force (“Chronic stupidity is not the result of injury or genetics; it’s a learned behavior.”)

Blog Headline of the Week

Nonbookish Linkage

Bookish Linkage

  • Paper shortage threatening publishing industry, i.e. “real” books
  • I wish more authors did this

Dogs are experts on love. They have a Ph.D. in love.

David Crosby, Rolling Stone (July-August 2021)

This blog is old enough to vote

Eighteen years ago tonight, the first post appeared on this blog. It addressed how George W. Bush was the only president other than Nixon to cause me so much anger and fear.

Before Dubya, I never thought I could despise a president more than Nixon. I certainly never thought I could hate a president more than Dubya. Guess what? It took very little of 2017 to disabuse me of that idea. In other words, as I think modern America reflects, politics have gone from bad to worse to “OMFG.”

I’ve written more than 2,600 posts over those 18 years. Until March 2005, the blog was devoted mainly to politics. Then, it moved largely to books and music because I was — and now am even more — fed up and sickened by 98 percent of politics. I avoid watching the news because party now means more than principle and the proliferation of QAnon idiots, anti-vaxxers, and the like. (Not to mention Kristi (“free-dumb”) Noem.)

In 2006, though, the insane and frightening Judicial Accountability Initiated Law (JAIL) appeared on the ballot. I wrote nearly 100 posts on it. That led to some harassment and legal threats by some JAIL supporters but also the pleasure of being interviewed by NPR’s Nina Totenberg. Fortunately, 89 percent of South Dakota voters rejected the measure.

I took a lengthy hiatus from December 2017 until January 2021. I attribute it in large part to President Trump Stress Disorder impacting my and so many other lives. While I’ve resumed blogging, much of my current effort is going to a couple of history publications at Medium. I’ve averaged around two posts a week there, some of which I’ve reposted here.

So what’s been showing up here for the last 18 years? Excluding the four-year hiatus, it’s averaged more than 185 posts a year (some 3.5 per week). The largest number, 409, has been in the A Reading Life category, which I described as “Anything remotely connected with books and reading.” The Weekend Edition collection of linkage is second with 396, followed by Politics (381) and Book Reviews (350). The reviews (many of which appeared elsewhere) were between 2005 and December 2018, so I averaged a book review roughly every two weeks.

Even at 18, the blog is kind of an anachronism. Today it’s “influencers” and social media. In that regard, I believe social media is one of the worst things to happen to the world. I dropped my Facebook account, have a Twitter account I look at only if a link in a story takes me there, and have Instagram only because my kids occasionally post pictures there.

Whether the blog will make it to 21 is an open question. That’s in part because I, too, am somewhat anachronistic. I’ll be 65 next week, and I doubt many curmudgeons (“You kids get out of my yard!”) have a blog. Regardless, I hope the handfuls of readers have gotten at least some information and enjoyment from my efforts.

Writing is the only way I have to explain my own life to myself.

Pat Conroy, My Reading Life

Weekend Edition: 9-4

Interesting Reading in the Interweb Tubez

Mind-Boggling Blog Headline of the Week

Nonbookish Linkage

Bookish Linkage

It is sometimes an appropriate response to reality to go insane.

Philip K. Dick, VALIS

I be officially old

Today brings proof I’m old — I’m eligible for Medicare. At least initially, though, it seems like a good thing.

My wife (who was eligible earlier this year) and I aren’t on Medicare itself, opting to purchase a Medicare Advantage insurance policy. Even then, we will be paying more than $2,000 a month less than the private policy we purchased through the Obamacare marketplace. That’s right — $24,000 a year! Since January 1, 2020, health insurance has been our largest single expense, accounting for 28.7 percent of what we’ve spent.

This is just further proof that our healthcare system is broken. What we’ll be saving is roughly $5,000 more than the gross pay of someone making South Dakota’s minimum wage of $9.45 an hour — if they work 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year. Even if they get $15-$16 an hour, which appears to be the market rate minimum wage, health insurance would take some three-quarters of their gross pay. Again, that’s working 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year.

Granted, this doesn’t take into account any age-based rates, both spouses working or the outside chance an employer offers its low-wage employees a health plan at a reduced rate. Yet even then, how do we expect someone — or more importantly, someone with children — to pay for health care? The lack of health insurance certainly contributes to a lack of preventive medical care, which, in the long run, is far less expensive than dealing with conditions after they’ve developed.

The size and power of health insurers mean we’ll never see national health care (or to use the conservative pejorative, “socialized medicine”). Likewise, it makes “Medicare for All” a pipe dream.

I’ve always thought medical care was essential for the “right to life” the right harps about or to “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.” President Franklin Roosevelt recognized this in his 1944 State of the Union address, saying a “second Bill of Rights” included “The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health.” Even though the Affordable Care Act reduced the numbers, 30 million Americans under the age of 65 lacked health insurance in mid-2020. It may well have increased as the economic impact of COVID-19 worsened.

Sadly, too many Americans will die of preventable or treatable illnesses before we recognize health care is a basic right.

[Healthcare] is not a consumer good, but rather a universal right[.]

Pope Francis, July 5, 2016