Idle thinking, among the bookporn

March 28, 2010

Night out for the boys — well, for Kenny and me — while Kathryn had some of the girls over.

Kenny introduced me to a Dallas sushi venue, Asian Mint.  His appearing-to-be deep-fried Texas Roll was a pleasant, crunchy blend of oriental and Texas.  The mango sauce added a sweet smoothness.  My more standard tuna came with a little internal heat — the wasabi perfectly blended (Kenny is the one who doesn’t like horseradish heat, having somehow missed that gene from my grandfather).

Asian Mint is a Dallas hit (“Asian fusion”).  It’s not Salt Lake City’s Takashi, but for 1,000 miles from the Wasatch Front, it’s a good place for Saturday night.  We got there early.  Families were lined up waiting when we left.

We closed off the night at Half-Price Books, at the store on Northwest Highway fans and employees fondly deem “the mother ship.”  (Years ago, across the street to the east, the store was in an old, converted restaurant which had a pirate’s ship inside; the store kept the ship as a kids’ reading area.  Was that the origin of “mother ship?”)

Books?  Today?

I don’t read enough.  20 years ago I found a study that said if you read one book a month, 12 books a year, you’re in the 99th percentile of readers.

The coffee mug with Einstein on it says “Coffee makes me smart.”  Kenny, our family’s most-tech savvy early-adopter — a high commendation in a family where Mom and Dad have been in computers since mainframes were the way to go — agreed that it’s more likely books that make us smart.  We don’t read enough, but we stay in the 99th percentile.

What an easy, easy way to get ahead!  Get a book:  Read it.

Michael D. Green, the real estate impresario for Murray Hill who formerly headed the Louis August Jonas Foundation when I had so much fun there, used to say that he was not educated, but he read the book reviews.  Reading the book reviews would be better than not knowing.  At a Manhattan cocktail party he could hold his ground with just about anyone.  I’ve never found a topic on which he didn’t know something, usually cutting-edge.  His book recommendations are always epiphanies.

Bookstores are full of them, epiphanies.

So are libraries.  Idle Think’s “bookporn” series cheers me up enormously, most of the time.


American demographics

March 28, 2010

Why do the heathen rage?  If you think the Tea Baggers and Republicans protest too loudly and too much, you’re not alone.

Frank Rich, writing in the New York Times, reveals the failure, sin and shame of the Republican Party; it would be good were Rich not right.  It’s unlikely, though.

The conjunction of a black president and a female speaker of the House — topped off by a wise Latina on the Supreme Court and a powerful gay Congressional committee chairman — would sow fears of disenfranchisement among a dwindling and threatened minority in the country no matter what policies were in play. It’s not happenstance that Frank, Lewis and Cleaver — none of them major Democratic players in the health care push — received a major share of last weekend’s abuse. When you hear demonstrators chant the slogan “Take our country back!,” these are the people they want to take the country back from.

Demographics are avatars of a change bigger than any bill contemplated by Obama or Congress. The week before the health care vote, The Times reported that births to Asian, black and Hispanic women accounted for 48 percent of all births in America in the 12 months ending in July 2008. By 2012, the next presidential election year, non-Hispanic white births will be in the minority. The Tea Party movement is virtually all white. The Republicans haven’t had a single African-American in the Senate or the House since 2003 and have had only three in total since 1935. Their anxieties about a rapidly changing America are well-grounded.

Now you know, too, why so many Republicans and Tea Baggers complain about the U.S. Census and its simple, unintrusive questions.  It’s not really the census taking that bothers them; it’s the census counting what they know to be true, now.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Blue Ollie, and you ought to go over to read his better and longer post on this topic.


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