Bought Nasty, Brutish and Long, a book for Mother's Day since my mom likes to read about depressing subjects such as the horrors of eldercare and nursing homes in this time in which many of us live long lives due to modern medicine.
From Kristol in the NY Times:
Many people doubt the effectiveness of foreign aid, and a new best-selling book called “Dead Aid” by an African finance expert, Dambisa Moyo, even argues that government-to-government assistance is often harmful to recipient countries. It’s true that aid of all kinds is harder to get right than people usually assume, but the kind that has the best record is grass-roots investment — with strong local buy-in — in health, education, agriculture and microfinance. I’ve repeatedly seen these kinds of programs transform families and communities, from Africa to Afghanistan. Frankly, this kind of aid is also pretty beneficial to the donor. For my part, I gain [much psychic value] from the $24 a month from sponsoring [a child].
Another from the Times:
...the trend has generally been toward less competition. Indeed, it may be precisely because close Congressional races are so atypical that the exceptions get so much attention. Why is it that there are fewer close elections than there once were? We can think of three reasons: POWERFUL INCUMBENTSInteresting that there is an incumbency advantage in the Congress at exactly the same time Congress has become even more feckless and ridiculously incompetent as ever.
The incumbency advantage has generally been increasing over time. A 2002 paper by Stephen Ansolabehere and James M. Snyder Jr. of M.I.T. examined the incumbency advantage in elections since World War II, and found that it had increased from about a two-point head start in the 1940s to eight points in the 1990s. Since there are no term limits for Congress, and since most senators and representatives today are career politicians who won’t retire until age or scandal forces them to, this means that elections in the vast majority of states and Congressional districts are never competitive. There are many theories as to why this is the case — in the television and Internet era, name recognition may be a more powerful advantage.
From "Redeemed" by Heather King:
Sometimes I think the whole reason I converted to Catholicism is because its churches are open all day. My career in the bars was at bottom a search to belong, and I have always had a sense of almost abject gratitude for open doors, spots to rest, the opportunity to sit quietly near people without having to talk to them.
Instead of immediately reading the new Christopher Buckley memoir, I've been satisfying my craving for fiction, for lyricism, with his uncle Fergus Reid Buckley's Servants and their Masters.
Reid can write, in a way I hadn't gleaned from my foray into his non-fiction (a memoir of the Buckley family). He makes his brother Bill's vocabulary look small by comparison and I amazed by the stamina of his prose-poetry. At page 100 of a nearly 600-pg book, there's no discernable let-up. He has the habit of dousing the prose with lots further encryption in the form of Spanish.
Written around 1972, it inevitably includes the de rigeour sex scenes. He writes of them sans approbation or approval but that, as usual, gets lost in translation, just as a Bougereau painting of naked angels makes few red-blooded man think of...angels.
Buckley rather keenly describes the debaucheries of a man living a "dissipated life" as was also said of the young St. Anselm, whose feast was a week or two back. I always wonder what exactly a dissipated life is. If you ask to ask? I suppose it depends at least in part to what God wants. If he designed a Trappist monk and you're living as a Franciscan, perhaps you could be said to be living a dissipated life. Similarly perhaps a Charles Bukowski was actually living...or maybe not.