When I teach the period of Soviet history between Khrushchev’s retirement and 1985 or so, I tend to sum it up as grey. Brezhnev, Andropov, their successors kept watch over a grey country where concrete was the building material of choice, where the snow turned grey in the cities, where conditions slowly grew worse as things went unrepaired or were patched and mended but not really replaced. Individuals fared better, or worse, and had their own stories with color and joy, but as a collective whole? Grey.
Why grey? I’d argue that grey is what is left when hope goes away. Continue reading
How long can a gyre in the middle of the intersection last? A chunk of firewood sat in the middle of the intersection for six months before someone finally stopped and removed it. It sort of swirled around and around, but never moved, like a patch of stagnant water or air. I saw it twice a day for months and the log sat there, despite it being the crossing of a major road and a state highway. Sand joined the log in winter, forming a little pale swirl in the middle of the road, but never went anywhere until early April, when the log and its surrounding detritus disappeared. The debris from a minor wreck have taken their place. Continue reading
Some days I just want to snarl at someone. Earlier that week, a well-meaning member of the choir asked to change the words of an upcoming anthem because the composer “didn’t quote the text correctly.” That is, if you use only her preferred translation. If you use the King James/Authorized translation, which the composer did, then the lyrics are an exact quote. But she is very sincere, and well-meaning, and no one else was strange enough to look at different translations, and so we all wrote in the “correct” words. Continue reading
I received this short-course invitation in my academic mail. The location and other information has been redacted, leaving the following description of what will be discussed and written about: Continue reading
Massive Rant. You have been warned.
“How could they be so cruel as to attack children and young people?”
Because they are called “terrorists” for a reason.
“Why bomb a concert with lots of young people?”
Because they want to make life so horrible that you give in to their every request, and killing kids is a great way to do just that. Continue reading
I’m in the process of reading a fascinating environmental history of the Yellow River valley during late Song Dynasty China (AD 1048-1128). The author does a very good job telling the story and putting all the environmental, social, and governmental pieces into place leading up to the Big Flood Disaster. But oh, the theoretical jargon and the footnotes! The author handles it well as such things go and does not get lost in the thickets of theories and analyses at the expense of telling the story, unlike some. But still, I’m reminded of the gulf that can exist between academic historians and history readers, even when it is unintentional. Continue reading
“Changing to snow after midnight” they said.
They should have specified more clearly which midnight.
If I ignore it, it had better go away.
UPDATE: 1644 CDT. OK, so it is still snowing a little, and I got the story-bible/world guide for the merchant fantasy story written. My brain hurts.