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Monthly Archives: September 2020

The Schubert Generation ★★★★

The PBS network has started a new season of “Great Performances.” The premiere of “The Schubert Generation” was Sept. 25, and it’s now available for streaming on the PBS web site (but only for a few weeks). I don’t think there has ever been a bad episode of “Great Performances.” It’s a cultural lifeline for […]

Enola Holmes ★★★★

The plot is a bit shaggy. But no matter. It’s enough of a plot to tie together all the necessary ingredients for an entertaining romp around old England — mystery, some thrilling train scenes, spooky old houses, some carriage rides, villains, fights, and even some fireworks. The heroine is Enola Holmes, the younger sister of […]


Once you legalize deep-frying in your kitchen (as I recently did), you’re on a slippery slope to — falafel. I probably thought of falafel as one of those city foods that can be made only after centuries of practice, and only in a commercial kitchen, like bagels. With falafel, it’s not like that at all. […]

Authoritarian governments

Authoritarianism: What Everyone Needs to Know. Erica Frantz, Oxford University Press, 2018. 200 pages. My expectations for this book probably were a bit off. What I wanted was a kind of theoretical understanding of authoritarianism, or a kind of model from which predictions could be made. This book, though, is more a statistical study of […]

Deep frying?

For many years, I avoided deep-frying. The first reason was that it’s messy. The second is that it’s not regarded as healthy. Then again … When I measure the oil before and after frying, I find that surprisingly little oil is lost — certainly less than a stir-fry, which is regarded as healthy. Also, I […]

Let’s go there: Worst-case scenarios

This gun-cleaning mat sent out as a freebie to gun-supply customers is pretty clear about how the Republican Party retails Trumpian meanness to its base. Source: Reddit We are being terrorized, aren’t we? Yet again yesterday, in a press conference, Trump said that any election he loses would be fraudulent and that he won’t commit […]

Wigtown podcast with Ken and Astrid

Here at the abbey in April 2020, at the baby’s six-month-old half-birthday party. For some years now, Ken and Astrid have been regulars at the Wigtown Book Festival in Scotland. This year, because of Covid-19, the book festival will be virtual. As one of the virtual events, here is an excellent 30-minute podcast from Wigtown […]

The hidden powers that are killing democracy

Source: Wikimedia Commons To the global super-rich, the rest of us are little more than just another natural resource to be exploited, no different in any meaningful way from industrial chickens or pigs. To a significant degree, though, the super-rich are afraid of the masses. The masses can be a bit more threatening than chickens […]

Donegal tweed

Click here for high-resolution version. I seem to have become a collector of vintage Harris tweed jackets, after a visit to the Isle of Harris and Lewis in 2019. That’s a slippery slope, because, before long, the tweed habit leads to Donegal tweed as well. Much has been written about Harris tweed. Less has been […]

Horatio Hornblower

Ioan Gruffud as Horatio Hornblower Most of my old DVDs are in a box in the attic. But the boxed set of Horatio Hornblower DVDs is always on the TV stand, ready for an emergency escape from the here and now. The series ran from 1997 until 2003 on ITV in the U.K. and A&E […]