Relief: Illinois has a state budget

Finally, Illinois has a state budget after more than two years without one. I, for one, am glad, even though it means my taxes will rise (gasp!) … because the truth is, they would have risen a whole lot more down the road if this state had continued to (attempt to) operate without one. Credit rating agencies were threatening to cut Illinois’ bond rating to junk status if no budget emerged by July (we’re still not assured that won’t happen anyway), and that would have caused the problem to spiral further out of control. Continue reading

Church of the Informed Citizen: Feminism, feminization and more

Former FBI Director James Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee this week, and he and the president basically (actually?) called each other liars. But as Maureen Dowd put it in the New York Times, “the president is not in any immediate jeopardy of being indicted or impeached.” Up next, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has agreed to testify before the committee Tuesday.

There has been a lot of reporting and analysis of Comey’s testimony. The Boston Review has an insightful piece dissecting how the president’s supporters have started attacking Comey with words that portray him as a woman. It’s a sad commentary that feminizing someone in this country amounts to demonizing, denigrating and dismissing them, but it’s true. If you are interested in good government, good citizenship, and ferreting out truth, pay close attention to the language used in debating issues and discussing news. Don’t let yourself get distracted from the real issues by this sort of sleight of hand.

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Embracing democracy, nonconformity and kindness

Again, I am reading E.B. White. Having finished my umpteenth re-reading of One Man’s Meat, I’ve moved on to The Points of My Compass. Like One Man’s Meat, it feels like an old friend.

As with much of my non-fiction reading, it reminds me that my problems are not unique and my society’s struggles are not new. (I’m reminded especially of my reading of Langston Hughes’ writings a while back, and how sadly familiar were many of his themes). I’m both comforted and dismayed by the reminder.

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Backward-running sentences and a character-filled cast

I have a new “Accidental Critic” piece up at Escape Into Life, a review of the book Cast of Characters, which examines the early years of The New Yorker magazine.

I hope you find it interesting, insightful, or some combination of the two. Without giving away the punch line, I can tell you that the book hasn’t yet been returned to the library because my husband now wants to read some or all of it. Fortunately, it’s not yet overdue.

I followed up Cast of Characters by tracking down a collection of essays by (Oliver) Wolcott Gibbs, one of Harold Ross’ first and key hires at The New Yorker. I wanted to read his profile of Henry R. Luce, “Time… Fortune… Life… Luce,” which is most famous for one sentence in which Gibbs mocked the writing style in the Time magazine of his era: “Backward ran sentences until reeled the mind.” Continue reading