Thinking About Lines of History

Last year I jumped on the chance to preorder Ron Chernow’s book on U.S. Grant. The Amazing R and I had just come back from a visit to Antietam. When the biography came via mail, I ate it up. I should write a review but I’m too busy following up on the text and thinking about it.

This has lead to a research focus on American reconstruction and its legacy on the now. This led to Black No More then to W.E.B. Du Bois’s Black Reconstruction in America, which I’m about halfway through. This has led to Foner which I’m now starting or plan to start after Du Bois’ amazing work.

This has also led back to Coates on reparations and why these arguments matter. There is so much to read.

The Amazing R is key to all this line of research.

The learning proceeds.

There’s more also:

Herman Melville’s, Moby Dick

Theodor Dreiser’s, The Financier

Stephen Coss’s The Fever of 1721



On Taking Law Enforcement Away

This tweet by the so-called president makes very little sense:

“So-called judge” and “which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country” are more than just inappropriate. And so we have the “so-called” president and the “so-called” president who “takes law-enforcement away from the country.”

I’m pretty sure that there’s adequate law left over.

On “The text with words”

From The Journey to the West. The Buddhist Patriarch says:

However, those creatures in your Land of the East are so foolish and unenlightened that I have no choice but to impart to you now the text with words.

This is a significant section of the novel, which redefines a previous judgement, switching “dumb” for “foolish” and “blind” for “unenlightened” and “wordless texts” for “text with words.”

The Purpose of Sleep

On the Purpose of Sleep:

Some have argued that it’s a way to save energy. Others have suggested that slumber provides an opportunity to clear away the brain’s cellular waste. Still others have proposed that sleep simply forces animals to lie still, letting them hide from predators.

How to Write about Being Incorrect

I’m somewhat puzzled by this use of language by David Graham at The Atlantic regarding the whole Frederick Douglass imbroglio. He writes:

In a way, Trump isn’t totally wrong about Douglass “getting recognized more and more,” though one is left to scratch one’s head at where precisely he noticed that.

First we have the hedge phrasing “In a way,” which has become a prepositional tic. I wonder what “way” is meant here. If the writer writes “In a way,” we would expect a description or definition of “the way.” In what “way,” for example, is the president “right”? And then we have the grammatical couple of “isn’t totally wrong,” which would suggest that the lego bricks in use here are both stable and unstable. We might write: “almost right”?

I would suggest that Conor Friedersdorf is more accurate in just writing the plain English of this example:

The mix of Trump’s incompetence and Bannon’s casual bellicosity endangers America.

A College from Scratch

This is an interesting project, building a college from the ground up.

Christine Ortiz is taking a leave from her prestigious post as a professor and dean at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to start a radical, new nonprofit university that she says will have no majors, no lectures, and no classrooms.