Thursday, September 2, 2021

Diary

As in most summers, I haven't been reading much lately. I have mainly been skimming through poetry books, but in that process I don't find much that I like. I may come up with some more good poems, or I may not. I know exactly what I enjoy in a poem, and it only takes a moment to recognize that I won't like a poem when I look at it. More than other people, I prefer poems that contain ideas or feelings, and I am less interested in pure physical descriptions, historical references and wordplay. I currently have on order two new nonfiction books which are just being published, and I'll start on one of those shortly.

The coronavirus has reared its ugly head again, and I'm hoping that it will subside soon. Vermont is still doing very well in terms of vaccinations and cases, and there is a chance that we have already reached the peak of this wave. We had a slightly normal social life for a few months and are currently in semi-isolation mode again.

At this point I am extremely tired of the American news media and prefer to ignore it. I tried the Washington Post for a year, and although I did like one columnist, Jennifer Rubin, the overall experience was unsatisfactory and no better than what I had with the New York Times. For general news I now read the Guardian, and for investing news I read the Financial Times. I can no longer tolerate the Sunday talk shows, with their panels of pundits; their analysis is so superficial that they have nothing serious to offer. What irks me is that the American news media, in its quest for profit, has cut operations that once kept the public semi-informed, and it has instead beefed up its entertainment features in order to attract readers and viewers. The American mind was always pretty mushy, and now, with the suppression of critical thinking, the country is lurching from one fiasco to another. This might have been prevented if journalists had done their jobs, but there is still the problem of inadequate education. One need only look at the people who win major political positions to see that something is seriously wrong. There have been no good presidents since World War II, and the last was one of the worst in American history. No responsible journalist covering national politics, regardless of their political views, should be comfortable with the fact that Donald Trump won an election and stayed in office for four years. In theory, if they had performed professionally that would not have occurred. Some of the controls used in China could be useful in the U.S. The kind of free speech you most often see here is an expression of ignorance, and the country would do better without it. The atmosphere could improve markedly if millions of disgruntled Americans were forced to shut up. Though the internet carries some of the blame for this situation, it remains a crucial fact that journalists have been remiss for years; whatever standards of objectivity they ever had seem to have disappeared.

I've been engaged in very little stargazing this summer, largely because viewing conditions have been poor. This is mainly due to the fires on the West Coast. That smoke blows all the way across the country and prevents the sky here from clearing completely. Because the stock markets are still doing fairly well, investing has become part of my daily routine on weekdays. Since the beginning of 2020, my average monthly gains from investing have been three times as much as my monthly wages were before I retired. This isn't going to last forever, but for now it is easy money. It would have been more difficult to do this a few years ago, and it is facilitated by commission-free trades and better online tools.

William has been behaving differently. For some reason he hasn't been catching many rodents lately and is eating more cat food instead. Last spring he became extremely sick for a couple of days, possibly from eating a poisoned mouse, and he may have lost his appetite for them. It is also possible that the mouse population has fallen off, but that seems unlikely.

This summer has been wetter and cooler than usual. As in previous years, we have lots of tomatoes – four different kinds.  

I did decide to buy a shotgun and will be doing some target practice soon. 

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