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
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
Mom and Dad Red were watching a documentary about the Amur River the other night. I was listening with half an ear, trying not to add commentary, and reading a book about a different Chinese river. One of the commercials was an advertisement for a program about what if humans could eliminate all the things that keep us from having physical immortality. My first reaction was to mutter, “I’ve read that book. It was depressing.” My second was to recoil from the mindset that would find physical immortality so desirable. Because to me it suggests a world that gives up on the idea of an eternity, and focuses on the material alone. We’ve seen that. It gets ugly, very quickly. 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
Welcome Instapundit Readers! thanks for Stopping by.
After reading the news yesterday about the French students and others who have decided to protest the presidential election no matter who wins, I started thinking about why. Granted, these are people who do not like any of their options in the run-off, but when you look at the protests and “protests” in France and in the United States, their arguments come down to one thing: the government is not doing what they believe it should.
In other words: what is the duty of government? What is its overarching purpose? Continue reading