Snippets

Would you be whining about your work if you had an incredibly powerful job, could have it as long you wanted, work full-time nine months of the year, and make enough to put you in the top 2% of earners with the chance to make even more? And yet here is John Roberts, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, publicly bemoaning that Americans question the legitimacy of his Court. Apparently, he is so unhappy that so many see his work as illegitimate that he is going to resign. Just kidding.

“Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving wordy evidence of the fact.” George Eliot.

I have listened to the summer sounds. I take my coffee and reading material to the porch as the light is dawning and pause periodically to listen to the bird songs, even though I cannot identify any of the calls. After dinner and dusk, I take a book to the porch and pause in my reading to hear the symphony of the cicadas. During the daylight I hear deer, chipmunks, squirrels, and rabbits rustling the dry leaves in the woodlot next to my reading spot. But, unfortunately, during the day I also hear the summer sounds of lawn mowers, weed whackers, leaf blowers, and backhoes.

It must be a sign of age: I think of my youth as all the time before I was sixty-eight.

A fact that surprised me: The first medal awarded to an American at the 1936 Berlin Olympics was for art. Art competitions were part of the summer games until 1948.

Another fact that surprised me: Iceland has no ants.

A recurring question that mystifies me: Why are Americans so besotted with the un-American institution of the British royalty?

Sometimes when conservatives rail against critical race theory they betray complete ignorance of what it is. Perhaps they oppose it because they think that it is a system for picking horses.

 “In the middle of the twentieth century, any Mississippi schoolchild who achieved an eighth-grade education had been exposed to a state history textbook [Mississippi through Four Centuries] that told of the glories of the Klan. In discussing Reconstruction, it said the Klan whipped and even killed Blacks ‘who had been giving trouble in a community. . . . The organization helped the South at a difficult time.’” Curtis Wilkie, When Evil Lived in Laurel: The “White Knights” and the Murder of Vernon Dahmer. (2021).

Tony Horwitz, in Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War (1998), reports that a visitor to a civil war battlefield asked a park ranger why so many Civil War battles were fought on national parks.

The philosopher said, “Half of wisdom is being silent when you have nothing to say.”

First Sentences

“When he was old and allowed himself a reverie, he remembered the soil and the way it felt as it caressed his feet.” Jonathan Alter, His Very Best: Jimmy Carter, a Life.

“They were firing from the bell-tower with machine-gun bursts or careful rifle shots, according to our movements.” Leonardo Sciascia, Antimony.

“On January 16, 1934, a Nazi customs official arrived at the door of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Cell Physiology with a stack of papers.” Sam Apple, Ravenous: Otto Warburg, the Nazis, and the Search for the Cancer-Diet Connection.

“This was the day that Daniel vaulted the wall.” Louis de Bernières, The Dust That Falls from Dreams.

“The hillside on which the Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapaho were about to make such a grisly fool of Lieutenant Colonel William J. Fetterman was dun-colored and bare, with no cover save for broken rocks that looked as if they had been thrown down by a short-tempered God.” Sally Jenkins, The Real All Americans: The Team that Changed a Game, a People, a Nation.

“Gramercy Park is the most wistful and the gentlest of the New York squares, and the Players Club is one of the handsomest buildings in it.” David Stacton, The Judges of the Secret Court: A Novel about John Wilkes Booth.

“’Remember the year 1763,’ the celebrated stage actor David Garrick told James Boswell.” Colin G. Calloway, The Scratch of a Pen: 1763 and the Transformation of North America. (History group.)

“Bill Rankin sat motionless before his typewriter, grimly seeking a lead for the interview he was about to write.” Earl Derr Biggers, Behind That Curtain.

“More than a decade later, racial antagonism still burned in Jones County, a south Mississippi setting with a complex history.” Curtis Wilkie, When Evil Lived in Laurel: The “White Knights” and the Murder of Vernon Dahmer.

“For a long time, my mother wasn’t dead yet.” Jacqueline Woodson, Another Brooklyn.

“Law is the intersection of language and power.” Fred R. Shapiro, The Oxford Dictionary of American Legal Quotations.

“I am lucky: I know what people say about me.” Lauren Belfer, City of Light.

“Why should we begin with biblical, Greek, and Roman wives?” Marilyn Yalom, A History of the Wife.

“The two suspects sat on mismatched furniture in the white and almost featureless lounge, waiting for something to happen.” Alex Pavesi, The Eighth Detective.