…Barack Obama’s tragic flaw: He still seems to stubbornly believe that if he just explains clearly and calmly enough to his friends across the aisle why his ideas will bring the greatest good to the greatest number, there’ll finally be no more Red America and no more Blue America. But my 18 years studying conservatism has convinced me the right just doesn’t work that way — they’re fighting for civilization stakes, and he’s a liberal, so, Q.E.D., he’s the enemy. His longing to compromise with them just ends up driving the political center in America further to the right.

Source: Rick Pearlsten, interview NY Times

Since the last explosion of a generalized belligerent will in the Napoleonic wars, the industrial and scientific revolutions had transformed the world. Man had entered the Nineteenth Century using only his own and animal power, supplemented by that of wind and water, much as he had entered the Thirteenth, or, for that matter, the First. He entered the Twentieth with his capacities in transportation, communication, production, manufacture and weaponry multiplied a thousandfold by the energy of machines. Industrial society gave man new powers and new scope while at the same time building up new pressures in prosperity and poverty, in growth of population and crowding in cities, in antagonisms of classes and groups, in separation from nature and from satisfaction in individual work. Science gave man new welfare and new horizons while it took away belief in God and certainty in a scheme of things he knew. By the time he left the Nineteenth Century he had as much new unease as ease. Although fin de siècle usually connotes decadence, in fact society at the turn of the century was not so much decaying as bursting with new tensions and accumulated energies.

Source: The Proud Tower; Barbara Tuchman

The reader was so regularly encored that he had been obliged to cut down his items on the programs to two; which in effect was four, and when he had finished his last reading and with his hand on his heart had bowed himself from the platform people would sigh to each other and say “whatever comes next’ll sound dull after that.”
They showed so much interest that one would naturally have expected them to get [Dickens’] books, of which there were several in the Parish library, to read for themselves. But, with very few exceptions, they did not, for, although they liked to listen, they were not readers. They were waiting, a public ready-made for the wireless, the cinema

Source: Larkrise to Candleford by Flora Thompson, page 449

As for the Hobby Lobby ruling, she found it a disturbing reminder of the community she had left behind. “The Green family’s definition of religious liberty isn’t drawn from the First Amendment,” she said. “It’s drawn from a belief common to the religious right: that they have a right to control the choices and moralities of other people.”

She learned to bake and to roast, to mend and to scrub. She learned to sew and to knit.

Source: Book Of Ages; The Life And Opinions of Jane Franklin by Jill Lepore

Beware the bookish woman. (was an adage of the age)

Source: Book of Ages; the Life and Opinions Of Jane Franklin….Jill Lepore

In 1560, Mrs. Montague, the Queen’s silk-woman gave Elizabeth her first pair of knitted stockings. She was enchanted with them and asked Mrs. Montague to set about making more at once. I like silk stockings well she exclaimed; they are pleasant fine and delicate. Henceforth I will wear no more cloth stockings. The hose cut out of taffeta or cloth were, of course, inelastic and fitted only like gaiters. The clinging quality of the knitted stockings made the leg so elegant by contrast that the fashion for them, which spread widely, was abused by moralists as worldly and improper. When the Queen saw her own legs in them she at once declared she would wear nothing else; but it was said in praise of the Lady Magdalen Dacre, that she never wore knit stockings either of silk, worsted or wool.

Source: ELIZABETH THE GREAT Elizabeth Jenkins p.160


It’s hard this time of year. The daylight is so limited and the brain wants what it wants. Cramming everything into the naturally lit part of the day makes me nervous. How to get it all in. We’ve come away from the natural cycle of the northern hemisphere to expect it all, all the time.

My areas of study

I’m interested in (in no particular order) Scotland, Alaska, Louisiana, Russia, and Chesapeake Bay. So I read authors who write about those places. John McPhee writes about at least four..