American Numbers Game

Golf and Hurricanes: a Story of Two Sets of Numbers By Penny Smith In an age of truthiness, even numbers lie. Well, one could argue they have always concealed facts (see Mark Twain: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”). Yet the skewed...

Let Us Now Praise Honorable Men

By Penny Smith One of the most powerful books I’ve ever read is James Agee’s Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, which came with equally powerful photographs by Walker Evans. Eschewing traditional journalism, Agee distills the experiences of tenant farmers during the...

Worse Than Ever?

By Penny Smith Ezra Kline, one of the more thoughtful of our newest generation of political analysts and founder of the web site VOX, recently penned an interesting article on our current climate of democratic despair: “American Democracy has faced worse threats than...

A Movement to Watch: Rebirth of the Poor People’s Campaign

By Penny Smith The most recent New Yorker  (May 14, 2018) contains an extended essay on the Reverend William Barber (“The Southern Strategist” by Jelani Cobb, pp. 68-75), written by a fan. However, if you have ever heard Barber speak or have read transcripts of those...

Swamp People: With Apologies to the History Channel

By Penny Smith Because I have an inexplicable fondness for American Pickers, I’m privy to advertisements for another History Channel Show, Swamp People. Set in the Atchafalaya Basin in Louisiana, it’s a reality show about alligator hunters. Given my attraction to most...

GSMNP: You Got Got to Love It

By Penny Smith Friday was a difficult day for Margaret, my partner with dementia. So I decided we needed to spend Saturday doing something she still likes to do – ride through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, accompanied by the two terriers, in search of...

Mark Watson Park: A Brief Meditation on the Good Life

By Penny Smith One of the pleasure of life in Jackson County is the number of parks available for dog walking, an exercise in which I routinely engage. For example, there’s the walkway at the Cullowhee Recreation Center, the Village Green in Cashiers, part of the...

Civilization

By Penny Smith One of my book clubs read Brian Morton’s Florence Gordon last month. Its protagonist is a feisty, indeed cranky, elder feminist, who takes few prisoners. When a man tries to jump the line in a local drug store, she immediately admonishes him. To his...

Build That Wall!

By Penny Smith It’s difficult to capture Big Bend National Park in words. It’s vast and varied, but it’s in Texas and everything there is supposed to be big.  It’s isolated — over 560 miles from Houston, where I once lived and from which I started my visits, so...

BBAs and Republican Duplicity

By Penny Smith The Japanese have a penchant for stylized theatre. Kabuki is an ancient drama-dance form with predetermined plots, dress, and exaggerated facial make-up. Sumo wrestling is both a stylized performance and a life style. In a wrestling bout there is...

My Parents’ Republican Party

By Penny Smith Both of my parents were Republicans, first by heritage and then by choice. My mother’s family was from Iowa farm country, a Lincoln Republican stronghold. They valued personal responsibility, a strong work ethic, stoicism in the face of challenges, and...

Deep State Dilemma

By Penny Smith Part I I generally subscribe to one mainstream conservative magazine for two reasons: (a) it lets me know what the opposition is thinking and (b) it puts me on mailing lists that bring to the house truly awful solicitations on behalf of the...

My Goodness (An Abstract Poem By Our Dear Leader)

By Penny Smith Yes, he really did say these things.   I think if this country gets any kinder or gentler, It’s literally going to cease to exist. (1990)   The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese In order to make United States...

Tangled Threads or Who’s Really Paying for GOP Campaigns?

By Penny Smith I was originally going to write about the “Deep State” this week, but a casual glance at today’s news sent me in another direction. Like a previous entry on this site about the devious ways in which the GOP has decided to fund their candidates, this one...

Life Lessons: What We Can Learn from Squirrels

By Penny Smith Spring is about returning. The birds are back. Peepers are peeping. Daffodils, crocuses and tulips are mature. The smell of tilled earth is once again in the air, as is, unfortunately, the faint dust of pollen. Fruit trees appear in grocery store lots....

Parallel Planes: Parallel Lives

By Penny Smith In geometry, a plane is a flat, two-dimensional surface. Parallel planes may extend forever, but they never intersect. So much of American history is made up of parallel planes. For example, I just finished reading Preston Lauterbach’s The Chitlin’...

On Ending the Liberal Arts in College

By Penny Smith Last week the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point announced that it was considering eliminating 13 humanities majors, including English and History. They would be replaced by “clear career pathways.” The announcement echoes an earlier attempt by...

LIFE LESSONS — MY FIRST CAR: PARENTS ARE SOMETIMES RIGHT

By Penny Smith In 1961 my father retired from the Air Force. With a friend he briefly considered opening a Par Three golf course in pre-Disney World Winter Park. However, like many men with his set of skills and experiences, he transitioned to the military arms...

John Jordan O’Neil: One of My Heroes

By Penny Smith Countdown: If it’s Monday, March 19, 2018, it’s ten days until opening day. Play ball!  I first encountered Buck O’Neil in a couple of baseball history books, but he became real to me in Ken Burns’ baseball series. O’Neil frequently comments on this,...

This Week in the Blog 3-12-18

There are another three wonderful reads in the Blog this week.  Penny has read another book by David Kay Johnston, The Making of Donald Trump, which peels back whatever facade is left on the president to reveal the real person.  However, the best reason to read this...

Arrogant Donald and the 2018 Election

By Penny Smith I’m on a David Cay Johnston kick at the moment, having read It’s Worse than You Think last week. I just finished The Making of Donald Trump this week. The book is a campaign anti-Trump biography, hoping to take The Great Pretender (TGP) down a couple of...

Forty-Two

By Penny Smith The laziest reader of Douglass Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy knows that “42” is the ultimate answer to the ultimate question. There was even a book published on the tenth anniversary of his death, 42: Douglas Adams’ Amazingly Accurate Answer...