Washington: From General to Statesman

Washington, Ron Chernow’s biography of America’s first president, is tremendous. I’m just over halfway through it. I’ve just finished the third and longest of its six parts: The General. Part Four is The Statesman: hence the title of this post.

Chernow deftly sums up a couple of striking things about Washington the General.

Throughout history victorious generals had sought to parlay their fame into political power, whereas Washington had only a craving for privacy…

He was that rare general who was great between battles and not just during them.

Indeed, maintaining the Continental Army, given the lack of resources, the differences among the thirteen colonies, and other obstacles is as impressive as any specific victory.

I’m looking forward to the last three parts: The Statesman! The President!! The Legend!!! Those are Chernow’s titles, but my punctuation. There’s a great cast of characters: not only Washington himself, but also Martha, Lafayette, and of course Hamilton. That said, I may spend some time with shorter and more fictional reading before I read the next 360-ish pages.

Gingrich on Trump

Some of what I heard on Trump and Trumpism from Newt Gingrich has subsequently become a lot more interesting. On January 17, I visited the Heritage Foundation in Washington DC for one of a series of presentations on Trump and Trumpism, given by Newt Gingrich. This post captures some of the notes and recollections that have become more interesting in the intervening nine or so weeks. I’ll include at the end an overview of the presentation.

Many of the things that now strike me as I now look at my notes were about specific individuals. This was in mid-January, remember.

Gingrich can forgive Trump virtually anything for at least the next two years, because he is not Hilary Clinton. I am not on a Newt-watch to determine the limits of Gingrich’s forgiveness.

Trump’s “team of winners”… yes that’s a quote. Continue reading “Gingrich on Trump”

Springtime for WordPress

Happy new season: spring if, like me, you’re in the northern hemisphere; autumn if you’re in the southern. Here are some thoughts about WordPress, the platform on which ChangingWay is published.

Three things:

  • Jetpack, important feature of the WordPress landscape.
  • HTTPS, increasingly important to how the web, including WordPress, works.
  • SASS, tool for managing the “Style” of web sites, potentially including WordPress sites.

Jetpack is a plugin by Automattic. Automattic is the for-profit organization founded by Matt Mullenweg, Mr WordPress. Jetpack is free, in two ways: it is available at zero cost (free as in free beer); it is free/open source software (free as in free speech, as in freedom). Continue reading “Springtime for WordPress”

I’ve been reading Common Sense…

by Thomas Paine, and I’ll quote from it in this post. But hey, I just quoted Angelica Schulyer! Here she is, with her sisters, and other members of the Hamilton company, at the White House.

Now to quote T Paine himself. There’s a wonderful passage from toward the end of Common Sense. Here’s the setup.

We ought to reflect, that there are three different ways, by which an independancy may hereafter be effected… By the legal voice of the people in Congress; by a military power; or by a mob

And here’s the payoff.

Should an independancy be brought about by the first of these means, we have every opportunity and every encouragement before us, to form the noblest purest constitution on the face of the earth. We have it in our power to begin the world over again.

Feel free to share your own favorite quotes from Thomas Paine, Lin-Manuel Miranda, or…

What I Learned at Mount Vernon

Toward the end of the eighteenth century, a rebellion arose in America. It was provoked by the imposition of a tax on a beverage. George Washington was the most important single individual involved.

Washington put down the rebellion with a show of armed force. It was 1794, so he was President Washington at the time. I wasn’t aware of the whiskey rebellion until today.

We spent an interesting day at Mount Vernon. One of our party wanted to go down onto the sand near the wharf. That was not permitted. I had to break the news that we do not have freedom of beach.

Putting The “We” in WEB

Who fumbled the web? That’s a question I’m asking, mainly at a site called Fumbling the Web. The story so far: if any one organization can be said to have fumbled the web, it’s Yahoo; but that would be a gross oversimplification. So, if FtW turns into a book, many chapters may focus on a single organization, and how it fumbled some aspect of the web.

Who fumbled the web? We did. (That’s at least one chapter, and probably a thread running through FtW.) We’ve been doing so for over a decade, and seem likely to keep doing so. Now, about the “we” in web…

The post title was on the cover of Newsweek (with exactly that punctuation and capitalization, although I’ve changed such things elsewhere in this post). The issue was dated April 3, 2006. The cover showed the founders of Flickr, looking as happy as you’d expect given that Yahoo had just paid (an estimated) $35 million dollars for their business.

Bradley Horowitz, then of Yahoo, sounded like a happy acquirer.

[T]hey had millions of users generating content, millions of users organizing that content… people not on the payroll actually building the thing.

Continue reading “Putting The “We” in WEB”

Nevertheless, she persisted

Today, March 8, is International Women’s Day. Tor is marking the day with a festival of flash fiction, in the form of stories inspired by the phrase “Nevertheless, she persisted”.

I’m about to read the contribution of Catherynne M. Valente: The Ordinary Woman and the Unquiet Emperor. I’m looking forward to the other contributions.

I hope that the day goes well for you.

Seven Surrenders on the Seventh

My most eagerly awaited book of 2017 is Seven Surrenders, by Ada Palmer. It is the sequel to my favorite book of 2016, Too Like the Lightning. 7S will be published on the 7th (of March, 2017). So it’s just a few hours away as I edit this post.

What does the title Seven Surrenders mean? I suspect that it means that each of the seven Hives in some sense surrenders. But if so, to whom? To Bridger, the remarkable kid we met early in TLtL? And why, and how, and…

Or the number seven might refer to days of the week. The narrator, Mycroft Canner, tells us toward the end of TLtL that it takes two books (presumably TLtL and 7S) to tell a seven-day story. TLtL covered Monday to Friday. I expect 7S to describe a wild weekend!

These books make me want to write as well as to read:

Future Countries in Favorite Fiction

The world currently consists of about two hundred countries: sovereign states, most of which are members of the United Nations (UN). They tend to be durable entities with rather stable borders.

The world of the future isn’t divided up in this way. At least not according to a couple of recent novels I enjoyed very much. I refer to:

Continue reading “Future Countries in Favorite Fiction”

Favorite Photo: Path in the Snow

Of the photos I’ve taken, this is my favorite. Well, I might like some kid photos even more, but such photos don’t go on this public site.

The path winds through the Arnold Arboretum in Boston. I used to live near there. That winter was particularly photogenic, as this online album shows.

I see that I took it with a Canon digital camera, which has a far lower resolution than the phone with which I currently take photos. You can click on the image to see the full 1600×1200 photo! I’ll get another camera sometime, when the technology/price combination is right.