You are currently browsing the monthly archive for July 2010.

Perhaps it’s the wretched weather, perhaps it’s the fact that my braim is sliding into pre-vacation idle, but damme this has  seemed like a long week.

(BTW, the local country radio station plays a version of this song with all sorts of added effects and dialogue every Friday morning, a song much cherished by the gels.)

“If Hitler invaded Hell I would make at least a favourable reference to the devil in the House of Commons.”

-Winston Churchill on the German invasion of the Soviet Union, June 1941.

A kerfluffle has come up in the great Commonwealth of Virginny over the inclusion of a bust of Joseph Stalin at the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford.  On the one hand are those who argue that old Uncle Joe was such a first class monster, no better than Hitler himself, that it is a disgrace to honor him.  On the other are those who point out that without Stalin bleeding Hitler’s forces on the Eastern Front, there wouldn’t have been a D-Day.

I can see the argument about historickal honesty and Stalin’s critical contribution to the war effort, although it seems to me that it must be possible to educate visitors about Stalin’s geo-strategic importance without going so far as to give him a mark of honor visually equivalent to those of Churchill, Roosevelt and De Gaulle.   The memorial people at least don’t pull any punches with the text of the plaque that goes with the bust:

In 1922, Joseph Stalin became General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and spent the next seven years eliminating fellow revolutionaries. He next eliminated prosperous peasant farmers (Kulaks) as a class by displacing them to proto-gulags, thus precipitating famines that killed untold millions. Stalin’s “Great Terror” (1934-38) tried 50 million Soviet citizens; some 20 million were sent to gulags or executed. He also dispatched police (NKVD) to Mongolia, where tens of thousands died as “Japanese spies.” After entering a nonaggression pact with Hitler in 1939, Stalin invaded Poland, Finland, the Baltics, Bessarabia, and northern Bukovina. Between 1939 and 1949, he deported millions of Ukrainians, Poles, Koreans, Volga Germans, Crimean Tatars, Kalmyks, Chechens, Ingush, Balkars, Karachays, Meskhetian Turks, Finns, Bulgarians, Greeks, Latvians, Lithuanians, Estonians, and Jews.

When Hitler invaded Russia on 21 June 1941, Stalin turned West for help. To keep Hitler busy in the East,Churchill and Roosevelt gave it. An epigram penned by a wag in Britain’s Crown Film Unit exudes grim irony: “Once the Kremlin / Set us tremlin: / Now we’ve a pal in / Stalin.” Stalin repulsed Hitler at the Battle of Stalingrad then went on the offensive. At the Tehran Conference (November 1943), he influenced D-Day’s date and place, reset the borders of Poland, secured a carte blanche at home, and arranged to set up communist governments in Poland, Czechoslovakia, the Baltics, and Romania.

In memory of the tens of millions who died under Stalin’s rule and in tribute to all whose valor, fidelity, and sacrifice denied him and his successors victory in the Cold War.


“Mellontolatry, or the worship of the future, is a fuddled religion.”

-C.S. Lewis, God In The Dock

True, but I’m afraid the pews in its temples are full to overflowing.

"Permission To Come Aboard?"

Rescue personnel report that after the collision, which destroyed the boat’s mast, the passengers were found “blubbering.”

(Oh, I slay me sometimes.)

Full story here.

Today is the anniversary of the birth, in 1882, of Edward Hopper.

In honor of the day, and in an attempt to convince myself that I am not boiling over from the heat, I am going to stare at his painting of the Portland Head light and think about sea breezes.

Somebody recently asked, “Tom, why don’t you ever post about the Madeline stories anymore?”

Well, the truth is that although I always enjoyed reading them out loud at bedtime, all the gels have since outgrown that phase.  Nevertheless, a thought occurred to me just recently:

Why is it “Miss Clavel”?

She’s obviously a nun, so shouldn’t she be “Sister Mary” (or whomever)?

On the other hand, if she’s a liberated, with it, post-Vatican II modernist, why would she still be wearing a habit?

The world wonders.

David Hart on the metaphysical meaning of baseball:

What, after all, will the final tally of America’s contribution to civilization be, once the nation has passed away (as, of course, it must)? Which of our inventions will truly endure? We have made substantial contributions to political philosophy, technology, literature, music, the plastic and performing arts, cuisine, and so on. But how much of these can we claim as our native inventions, rather than merely our peculiar variations on older traditions? And how many will persist in a pure form, rather than being subsumed into future developments? Jazz, perhaps, but will it continue on as a living tradition in its own right or simply be remembered as a particular period or phase in the history of Western music, like the Baroque or Romantic?

My hope, when all is said and done, is that we will be remembered chiefly as the people who invented—who devised and thereby also, for the first time, discovered—the perfect game, the very Platonic ideal of organized sport, the “moving image of eternity” in athleticis. I think that would be a grand posterity.

So do I.

Yikes:, one of the nation’s largest booksellers, announced Monday that for the last three months, sales of books for its e-reader, the Kindle, outnumbered sales of hardcover books.

In that time, Amazon said, it sold 143 Kindle books for every 100 hardcover books, including hardcovers for which there is no Kindle edition.

The pace of change is quickening, too, Amazon said. In the last four weeks sales rose to 180 digital books for every 100 hardcover copies. Amazon has 630,000 Kindle books, a small fraction of the millions of books sold on the site.

Book lovers mourning the demise of hardcover books with their heft and their musty smell need a reality check, said Mike Shatzkin, founder and chief executive of the Idea Logical Company, which advises book publishers on digital change. “This was a day that was going to come, a day that had to come,” he said. He predicts that within a decade, fewer than 25 percent of all books sold will be print versions.

I simply cannot ever see myself switching to an electronic reader.  It may be backward, curmudgeonly, Counter-Reformationist, irrational and illogical of me (something new and different, I know), but they can have my paper and ink library when they pry it out of my cold, dead fingers.  (In fact, I was so put out by the article that I nipped over to the devil’s website and bought a real copy of Willa Cather’s Death Comes for the Archbishop, which the Mothe has been encouraging me to give a try for some time now.)

Speaking also of such things, the Mothe has been putting together a literary quiz for the members of her book club (aided just a little bit by Self) on the subject of Famous Literary Dogs.  Show of hands for those who’d like me to try and get hold of a copy and post it here?

Sistah’s (most recent) labelling of me as a doofus with weird thoughts has set this sketch playing inside my head again:

Oi em not a looney! Seriously!

My apologies for the relatively scant posting of late, but the wind has seemingly gone completely out of poor old Robbo’s mental sails, leaving his creativity and insight languishing and his head threatening to roll itself by the board on the swell.

In the meantime, I don’t suppose it’s any use to complain about the heat and humidity because it’s like this in many places, but………Jesum Crow am I tired of it.  It isn’t that it’s got hot this year, but rayther that it’s got hot and stayed hot.  I simply can’t remember the last time the temperature didn’t crack 90 (except when it rained).

So in addition to the chronic heat exhaustion I’ve been suffering off and on for about six weeks now, I realized this morning that what I had taken to be an outbreak of gnat bites in various parts of the person are, in fact, miliaria rubra, or what the docs would call prickly heat.

Sigh.  It’s always about this time of year that I rue not having air-conditioning in the ol’ jeep.

I know, I know.  “Stiff upper lip,” and all that.  And in fact, we leave town a week from Friday, heading to Maine for our annual summah hols, so hopefully I’ll be able to hold out until then, gaining refreshment and inspiration from a week of serious porch lounging.  In the meantime, I do hope you’ll understand if I seem more scatterbrained and disjointed than usual.


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July 2010