We want more schoolhouses and less jails; more books and less arsenals; more learning and less vice; more leisure and less greed; more justice and less revenge; in fact, more of the opportunities to cultivate our better natures.
When I say I am opposed to war I mean ruling class war, for the ruling class is the only class that makes war. … Capitalists’ wars for capitalist conquest and capitalist plunder must be fought by the capitalists themselves so far as I am concerned, and upon that question, there can be no compromise and no misunderstanding as to my position. I have no country to fight for; my country is the earth; I am a citizen of the world. I would not violate my principles for God, much less for a crazy kaiser, a savage czar, a degenerate king, or a gang of pot-bellied parasites. I am opposed to every war but one; I am for the war with heart and soul, and that is the worldwide war of social revolution. In that war, I am prepared to fight in any way the ruling class may make necessary.
If I just ate six pieces of extra thick Smith’s bacon, did I actually just eat a dozen pieces of bacon? This is why I usually don’t keep bacon in my fridge.
Look closely—you’ll recognize the formula: Underfund schools. Overcrowd classrooms. Mandate standardized tests sold by private-sector firms that “prove” these schools are failures. Blame teachers and their unions for awful test scores. In the bargain, weaken those unions, the largest labor organizations remaining in the United States. Push nonunion, profit-oriented charter schools as a solution.
Rush Limbaugh writes children’s books? And people actually recommend them? Huh. Books-a-Million: Bookstore I don’t recommend.
People on the Left who read The Huffington Post for news are as bad as people on the Right who read The Blaze for news. The Onion is a more legitimate news source than both of these.
Might be the last ski of the year for me, which is bad. But that means sunshine and warmth (somewhat) soon, which is good.
My students had to create historical Valentines today using prominent figures from the late 19th century. Here were the examples that I created as models.
The Taco Bell in Erie has been quarantined. So it begins. Godspeed.
What the history books are hiding from you, folks. Be informed!
I set myself a May deadline to finish editing the first draft of Muddy River, but in some ways, I feel further from completion than when I began the process. I wrote 85,612 words in three months of summer solitude, but the novel is not yet complete. For starters, I have no concrete ending. I had one - or so I thought - but I didn’t like it, so I backspaced those pages into oblivion. That’s hardly unusual. I decided that I needed to take some time away from the story and these characters, so I packed my first draft away in an unlabeled manila folder in my desk drawer and cleansed my literary palate with some trashy fiction, a stockpile of unread Harper’s magazines, and a hundred or so high school freshmen’s research papers.
As I begin to edit my story again, I’m reminded that there’s still much more of the story that I need to revisit, storylines and characters that need fleshed out. Meanwhile, there are an endless amount of other stories waiting patiently yet anxiously in the back of my mind to be released from my fingertips - but I resist the temptation. This one can’t just be another incomplete story. I have to finish it. I must.
Teaching can be soul-sucking. Maybe it’s careers in general that suck the passion and life out of us in our adulthood. Certainly, teaching itself can be a passion, but it seems with the embrace of one passion, the inspiration for others wanes. I need seclusion, concentration, obsession - none of which seem possible for three-quarters of the year.
Reflection only gets one so far… and not very. So, moving forward.
Noam Chomsky, a most distinguished intellectual and moral dissident, once wrote that the old motto about ‘speaking truth to power’ is overrated. Power, as he points out, quite probably knows the truth already, and is mainly interested in suppressing or limiting or distorting it. We would therefore do better to try to instruct the powerless. I am not sure that there is a real difference in this distinction. Ruthless and arrogant though power can appear, it is only ever held by mere mammals who excrete and yearn, and who suffer from insomnia and insecurity. These mammals are also necessarily vain in the extreme, and often wish to be liked almost as much as they desire to be feared.
Christopher Hitchens, Letters to a Young Contrarian
He could not remember when he stopped hating those who were trying to kill him. After all, he was trying to kill them too. He’d abandoned hatred somewhere on the plains of Montana or the jungles of the Philippines. He wasn’t sure, but no matter, it wasn’t good to hate. It always seemed to get in the way of doing the job, always seemed to take more than it ever gave back, always seemed to get the hater killed sooner than he otherwise might have been killed.
'What it comes to,' he said, 'is that working in the mill I get nowhere. It would be the same with any job I could get for they all pay the same and a man can't make enough working alone to keep a family. Sometimes I think they got together and figured it out to the last penny, the sonnomabitch bastards. And you know what it's been like every since we came to America. Good times, bad times, good times, bad times, one after the other. What we save in good times we have to spend to keep alive in bad. Where can we get at that rate? Nowhere. The poorhouse.'
Out of This Furnace, Thomas Bell (1941)
Finally read this relatively unknown Pittsburgh classic. It very well could be the definitive American rust belt novel.