Tuesday, May 11, 2021


We are having the coldest spring since we moved to Vermont, and I am still lighting fires in the morning. Fortunately, we had a lot of extra firewood this year. Usually the hummingbirds have returned by now, but they are nowhere to be seen. However, according to the weather forecast, there is only one more cold day left, and temperatures should then return to normal. With the coronavirus fading, we are going out a bit more often and are interacting with other people, but life still seems curtailed.

Under the circumstances, though I am resuming my usual spring activities outdoors, I am a little at a loss in finding pleasant pastimes. The small window of investing opportunities seems to have closed, so I will no longer be spending much time on that. I am also, as usual, stuck in finding suitable reading material. I still like biographies, but over the last few years I've worked my way through what I think are the best ones, and it may be challenging to find good ones on a regular basis in the future. Since I have no desire to read fiction of any kind or to delve into poetry again, I will have to continue looking into relatively new nonfiction and hope for the best. I currently have a book on order that I'll be starting soon.

After having read several biographies, I've started to notice some of the more subtle qualitative differences, and it is easier for me to become displeased with deficiencies. Also, the presumption that the subject of a biography is worthwhile is often incorrect as far as I'm concerned, and there aren't many people whose lives I find interesting. For example, there is a new biography of John F. Kennedy which I won't read. Kennedy had many of the characteristics that tend to make people famous, though on closer examination the pitfalls of hero-worship became part of the formula. The Kennedy children were spoiled brats with an unscrupulous, wealthy and ambitious father. He wanted one of his sons to be president, and when Jack's older brother, Joe Kennedy, Jr., died during World War II, Jack was the next in line. Not much happened during Kennedy's presidency: the disastrous Bay of Pigs Invasion, the Cuban Missile Crisis, a few stirring speeches, an elegant wife, and then the assassination. Without an early death, Kennedy may never have been considered a good president. He does not seem to have had much interest in policy or governing, and his private life would be considered immoral by most. I think that Kennedy got the classic dying-young bonus, which you can also see in Ché Guevara, John Lennon and others. When you live to a ripe old age, your weaknesses become more conspicuous. For example, from a biographical standpoint, Bertrand Russell may have done better to die in 1920 rather than in 1970. No one gets very excited by Paul McCartney or Ringo Starr.

Another area in which I've lost interest is the news. I've mentioned it before in my posts, but it is disconcerting to me how the media dance around issues in a manner that does nothing to increase public awareness. I began to become weary of them when they did nothing to prevent the Iraq War, let George W. Bush win a second term, and, finally, allowed Donald Trump to become president and stay in office. Even today, they have done little to stop Trump's stranglehold on the Republican Party – when nothing could be plainer than that Trump is a menace to society. While it is true that Trump is an experienced grifter, I think that vigorous investigative reporting could have exposed his criminal activities, and he could have been removed from office well before the end of his term. In the light of day, it is astounding that any informed person could find Trump qualified to hold public office: jail is where he belongs. Of course, I am well aware of human cognitive limitations, both individual and collective, but I have no desire to have them paraded in front of me on a daily basis by the media, particularly when no end is in sight.

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