Monday, February 15, 2010

It's a Bull Roaring Monday!

At last, more of my answers to questions submitted anonymously by readers of this blog! If you don't like how long it took for your question to get answered, ask more questions. In case you hadn't noticed, I don't post one of these until I get at least 3.
And remember, comrades, if you would like me to answer your questions, throw a question at me (gently) through this link! Ask early and ask often.

I'm wondering why every TV set, DVD and VCR, remote, and anything remotely connected (no pun intended) to video entertainment has to be constructed of black material with tiny black buttons. What's with all the black? And what about those of us who need glasses and bright light to read an ordinary book! How in the world can we remotely (again, none intended) connect with the TV news/movies if we can't see what we are doing! Aaargh!

There are a number of sources to blame. You could blame Stanley Kubrick and certainly every time I walk past our entertainment center I feel a strong inclination to evolve (which is largely achieved by not turning it on.) You could blame Tim Burton, specifically the stylistic sensibility that infected our culture through his awful Batman films, and you'll get little argument from me. In fact, I remember our family's old VHS players from the 1980s being boxy and grey. If one claimed that it was post Tim Burton's Batman that everything went black, shiny and inscrutable, I would probably believe them without question. My own beloved Karl Lagerfeld may have his hat in this circle of stylistic blame. But you might even trace it back to Franz Kafka who we just finished reading in our Reading the Classics Reading Group. So, you see, the sexy and hip association with things that look like cockroaches goes back a long way.
My advice: be one vote for breaking the cycle. Wear tie-dye.

What is your current read, your last read and the book you’ll read next?

In retrospect, I'm surprised it took this long for someone to ask this. I am currently reading a lot of Quakers for some reason. Specifically, I've found myself drawn heavily into the Journal of John Woolman which also includes his pamphlet "A Plea for the Poor." I am finding it edifying and it may very well change the course of my life. More on that soon, I'm sure.
I'm reading Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Its Cure by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, which also is very edifying and may very well change the course of my life.
I haven't started Crazy Like Us by Ethan Watters yet, but it was at the top of my reading list before I fell in with John Woolman. I imagine I'll start it very soon and then I'll be reading, what, like five books at one time. And I've started Homer's Odyssey for our reading group.
Just before this I read The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka, as you well know.
Next on the Reading the Classics I think is Jane Eyre.

Who is your favorite president?

Ooo, someone asking a question specific to the holiday. Well done! Also someone is drawing me out politically on my blog which is both exhilarating and frightening to me.
I'm assuming this is a historical question about presidents of the United States and not "who is my favorite president of a nation today." Because I'm not entirely sure how I would answer that.
Possibly not surprisingly, Franklin Roosevelt is up there. I like elements of the direction he was trying to steer the country's domestic economic policy. I love his idea for a Second Bill of Rights and feel cheated every time I think about how it didn't happen.
I also like elements of his cousin Theodore Roosevelt. I agree with Ken Burns that the national parks may very well have been one of America's best ideas. I'm not so sure about Teddy's foreign policy or his raging nationalism or what John Muir called (to his face) his infantile need to shoot the animals he saw in the wild. Incidentally, I like John Muir more than I like any US President. I wouldn't call either of the Roosevelts my favorite for a number of reasons, but Teddy might very well be one of my favorite presidents to read about or hear about.

For example:
When Teddy Roosevelt was campaigning for a 3rd term in 1912, he was having dinner at a hotel in Milwaukee, Wisconsin before a speech. A local saloon owner, who was apparently anti-Roosevelt, went into the hotel and shot Roosevelt in the chest. The bullet passed through Roosevelt's eyeglass case and his folded up copy of his 50 page speech before lodging into his chest. Roosevelt knew from his biology education that since he was not coughing blood, his lungs were not pierced and his wound was probably not life-threatening. SO HE WENT ON TO GIVE HIS 90 MINUTE SPEECH WHILE BLEEDING FROM THE BULLET WOUND IN HIS CHEST! He started his speech "Ladies and gentlemen, I don't know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot; but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose." The bullet stayed in Roosevelt's chest for the rest of his life. Later in life he was asked about the bullet in his chest and said "I do not mind it anymore than if it were in my waistcoat pocket."

This is just one story in a life I am absolutely fascinated with.

Abraham Lincoln is also very high on my list of favorite presidents. I know it's the obvious answer, the easy answer. He was the president who finally had the good sense to emancipate the slaves (albeit late into the administration.) I have a picture of him up in our dining room, actually. I think he's also the only president I have books by and about in my personal library (although I guess that's not entirely true, glancing over at my bookshelf, I guess Hunter Thompson wrote about both Nixon and Clinton. But the nature of Thompson's books and the nature of the books I own by and about Lincoln are VASTLY different in tone and message.)
I must say, I don't so much hold them up to heroic status as I find the ones I'm mentioning fascinating stories. On the other hand, I also find Richard Nixon fascinating while at the same time I think he was one of the most wicked presidents we've ever had and an absolute failure. But a fascinating one.
So "fascinating" is not placing a moral value on the individual. I guess I'm not entirely sure how to define "favorite" here in reference to a US President. And I guess I'm avoiding the question too.
Part of the problem is that FDR and Lincoln were war-time presidents and I find war morally repugnant. Also, I'm a member of the Peace and Freedom party which pretty much means I'm never going to vote for someone who gets to be president of the United States.

But I think I'm going to go with Lincoln. Or Teddy Roosevelt. I don't know. You pick.

Hm. Reading over this I notice that there was a lot of name-dropping this time. Sorry about that.

1 comment:

  1. my favorite president is FDR.
    I think it's because i had to do a report on him in elementary school