Frankly, I don’t understand why the response to “police must not kill people” has reflexively been to make excuses rather than “OK.” Heck, my youngest even knows to say “OK” when he means “No.”

[A]usterity remains a political choice. … Beneath the narrow debates about how debts can be repaid reverberate larger, as yet unresolved questions about what kind of society we want to have, about who will pay for certain kinds of social provisions and whether we will have them at all. At the end of the day, these are inescapably political questions, not accounting ones.

This week’s book is Fear City: New York’s Fiscal Crisis and the Rise of Austerity Politics, by Kim Phillips-Fein (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2017) 📚. Seems like it may be appropriate for the current financial climate.

No. 2 Son, 12, has always been curious about how things work. He’s currently fascinated by computer operating systems. Yesterday he asked which was the worst version of Windows.

Which led me to talk about how difficult it was to get people to upgrade from Windows95, tools that are good enough, planned obsolescence, creation of demand for useless things, tailfins on cars, fast fashion, and the insanity of an economic system that relies on creating wants and cannot satisfy needs.

Good times!

When will publishers once again have the courage to publish footnotes instead of endnotes? At least Eric Asphaug’s When the Earth had Two Moons (Custom House, 2019) 📚 has proper superscript notations instead of vague page references in the notes. Anyway, with all this back-and-forth I’m still only on page 5. Good book, so far, and good notes; and, no, electronic media would not help.

Today’s much more relaxing book, though one might not have thought so, is Tom Wicker’s biography of Richard Nixon, One of Us: Richard Nixon and the American Dream (1991) 📚, which has been waiting on my shelf since I was at Fordham. Judging by the bookmark inside I gave it a go poolside in 1996, leaving off just before reading about the 1952 Checkers speech. That speech was extraordinary, if only because it began an expectation of uncommon candor regarding the finances of presidential candidates.

Mr. Sparkman and Mr. Stevenson should come before the American people, as I have, and make a complete financial statement as to their financial history, and if they don’t it will be an admission that they have something to hide. And I think you will agree with me — because, folks, remember, a man that’s to be President of the United States, a man that’s to be Vice President of the United States, must have the confidence of all the people.

How is it that the confidence of all the people is too much to expect these days?

‪Took a break from reading Masha Gessen’s The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin (2012) 📚 to read a bit of Twitter. That was a poor choice for relaxation. Maybe I should make cookies🍪

A small person, perhaps a year or two old, toddled by my yard and carefully stooped to pick a beautiful wildflower. Then she and her daddy walked on, as she smelled the sweet dandelion.

I’m presently dividing my time between walking, reading John Kenneth Galbraith’s The Affluent Society (1958) 📚, and watching Yes, Minister (1980-1984), in lieu of contemplating the latest shenanigans or burning my phone’s battery on Twitter. The Affluent Society seemed like a reasonable follow-up to Manu Saadia’s excellently optimistic Trekonomics (2016) 📚. I’m enjoying it. Oddly enough the language is not that far off from some of the dialogue in Yes, Minister; it’s almost like there was a certain consistency of schooling or something.

But the questions I’d like answered, in all seriousness and honesty, in plain English, now, today, are “Why not?” Why can’t we have nice things? Why can’t we, in the immortal words of Rodney King, all just get along?