BERNIE SANDER’S “OUR REVOLUTION” ALIVE AND WELL!

” Let’s be clear!”  This familiar quote from Bernie Sanders is the perfect introduction to his recently published book detailing his campaign for the presidency. Perhaps more  important it is a detailed description of his progressive platform

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 Bernie Sanders, Our Revolution is divided into two sections. Part one reviews the origins and the execution of his campaign for the presidency.  It is an insightful glimpse of how the improbable became reality. For Bernie supporters the read is a pleasant and reinforcing journey.

The second part of the book is an excellent and detailed a count on the Sander’s progressive platform. The narrative extends far beyond the sound bites that are dictated by media coverage of campaigns. Fact based examinations of policies and programs lend substance to his ideas regarding income in-equality, climate change, corporate concentration, greed, education and health care. The reader comes away with a far greater understanding  of the depth and the rational for his ideas.  His explanations pattern his familiar straightforward and blunt style.

Having  just read Tom Friedman’s   Thank You For Being Late ( see gordonsgoodreads.com) it is interesting to discover the similarity of ideas and policy shared by Sanders and Friedman. Of particular interest is their common ground on education, climate change and income inequality.

Do not look for a lament on a lost cause because you will not find that narrative in these pages.  Bernie’s  Our Revolution, appears alive and well. I thought it appropriate to quote this battle cry from the final chapter.

” We will not be able to accomplish those goals if we look at democracy as a spectator sport, assuming others will do it for us. They won’t. The  future is in your hands. Let’s go to work.”

Let’s be clear!

 

 

 

 

 

Tom Friedman’s ” Thank You For Being Late.”

In the world of incredible  acceleration of technology, information, globalization and climate change, Thomas Friedman’s latest book takes a momentary pause to reflect. Thus the title,  Thank You For Being Late.   In reality, Friedman details a world-changing so quickly that civilization itself is now in fact very late, falling far behind Moore’s Law where exponential information changes driven by technology  literally double every two years!  ” Every society and every community  must compound the rate at which it re-imagines and adapts its social technologies, because our physical technologies will not be slowing down anytime soon, ” says Friedman.  Moore’s Law will win out and societal changes will have no choice but to try to keep pace.

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Friedman’s work is not a treatise only on technology. Quite to the contrary, it is a study of the current state of humankind. ” Warning ” writes Friedman. ” In  the age of accelerations, if a society doesn’t build floors under people, many will reach for a wall-no matter how self-defeating that would be.”

Much of this work deals with the impact of climate change as Friedman documents the globe’s movement out of the Holocene period of a more perfect  natural equilibrium into the present where the climate is on the edge of changing life as we have known it to exist on the planet. Friedman writes, ” I have said it before and I will keep saying it as long as I  have the breath: We are the first generation  for whom “later”  will be the time when all of Mother Nature’s buffers, spare tires, tricks of the trade, and tools for adapting and bouncing back will be exhausted or breached. If we don’t act quickly to mitigate these trends we will be the first generation of  humans for whom later will be too late.”

Just like his books  The World is Flat, The  Lexus And  The Olive Tree,  Hot Flat and Crowded and That Used To Be Us ( written with Michael Mandelbaum) Friedman’s work is readable, understandable and written for the layman even though the subject matter can become highly technical. That is very much his literary genius. He educates.  Search gordonsgoodreads for overviews of all of Friedman’s titles.

In today’s climate both political and technical,  Thank You For Being Late could not be more timely. Become  informed, painlessly!

 

THE HASTINGS OF BOYLSTON, MASSACHUSETTS

This writing is by no account an attempt to glorify the Hastings family name. My New England ancestors would have none of that. Quite to the contrary, it is born of the desire to commit to writing an answer to an often-asked question: Where did I come from?

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I am fortunate that some of what you will read in this narrative comes from oral history around the family supper table and what I remember from listening to my brother and sister and aunts and uncles and neighbors reminisce. Most of this story is derived from hours of research into deeds and land records dating back to the 1600s. Many hours were spent with old books, newspaper articles, and interviews.

A humble mildewed cardboard box that stayed in our basement for countless years was filled with treasure. The water-stained documents and faded pages contained therein stimulated my imagination. The box of old photos of people I didn’t know was kept in my parents’ bedroom dresser drawer where the winter woolens were stored. The pictures of grandfathers, grandmothers, and those who came before them still smell of the mothballs.

Fortunately, many of the old buildings I write about here remained standing during my sister’s, brother’s and my young adulthood. The descriptions of old roads, streams, and ponds derived from my memories add further texture to this writing. During my childhood Boylston remained a rural community to the extent that many of the old roads were dirt cart paths with grass sprouting in the center. Rusted horse-drawn farm implements were scattered in overgrown fields. An ancient, giant Fordson iron-wheeled tractor lay abandoned where it belched its last breath. Small trees, more like brush, penetrated the metal driver’s seat. Old decaying and weathered barns still stood.

My early ancestors were not diary keepers or writers of letters. They were farmers, men and women working from sun up to sun down, leaving little time for leisure. Details of their personalities are sketchy and anecdotal, but crafting this narrative allowed me to differentiate among them and to learn how they lived, who they married, and about their offspring.

Many of the old photographs included here are cause for both joy and concern. The joy derives from the thoughtfulness of those who placed these old and earlier studio portraits in safekeeping. The concern comes that in our digitized world, family photographs may disappear with a discarded cell phone or an accidental deletion. Who in today’s digital world is a designated keeper of the sacrosanct cardboard box?

If you are a casual reader of this narrative, I hope that you take from this family history urgency to write yours. Don’t rely on “File Save,” but rather click “Print” and gather the pages. Download selected family photos from your cell phone, have them professionally printed and do not forget the captions. Find a large box with a fitted top, and fill it with these treasures. Over the years the mildew will only add to the thrill and authenticity of someone someday discovering your family history.

I encourage you to embark on this endeavor for your family.

GORDON HASTINGS

THE HASTINGS OF BOYLSTON, MASSACHUSETTS IS AVAILABLE AT AMAZON.COM

 

SARAH VOWELL/ LAFAYETTE/MAKES HISTORY PERTINENT/RELEVANT/FUN!

If I were a superintendent of schools I would be inclined to advise  publishers of history texts  to invite Sarah Vowell to author my high school books. I suspect rather than turning away from a dry text of dates and  events, students might flock to the class to learn history from a contemporary author and storyteller who “gets it!”

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Vowell’s  LAFAYETTE IN THE SOMEWHAT UNITED STATES  is extraordinary in its snarky telling of  the story of  the Marquis de Lafayette, adopted son of George Washington, and profound contributor to the successful outcome of  the Revolutionary  War. Vowell’s history is  contemporary, humorous, relatable, and in your face.

Let me tempt you.

” I would like to see the calamity at Valley Forge  as just the growing pains of a new nation. It has been a long time since the men and women serving in the armed forces of the world’s only superpower went naked because some crooked townies in upstate New York filched their uniforms.  But there’s still this combination of governmental ineptitude, shortsightedness, stinginess, corruption and neglect that affected the Continental Army before, during and after Valley Forge that 21st Century Americans are not entirely unfamiliar with.”

” Whatever the actual  root of our centuries- old, all-American inability to get out shit together, no one can deny that the flinty survivors of Valley Forge embodied another national trait that every man, woman and child in this  republic is supposed to have: backbone, self-reliance, grit. An attribute that comes in handy in this less-than-public-spirited republic the Continentals were fighting to bring about.”

Yes, Vowell offers some fine upbraiding and stern lectures, but she does not miss a molecule of the history of Lafayette, the French, Washington, Yorktown,  Saratoga, Franklin, Adams, Cornwallis, Gage, the Palace at Versailles, Von Stuben, Hamilton, Jefferson, Knox and Howe.

Even the ” Boss “ makes the cut, the battle at Monmouth having been fought on his home turf.  Vowell writes, ” It’s a different kind of independence, personal, not political, but one of the many things we won in that war fought over two centuries ago turned out to be the freedom of expression that let a dude from New Jersey  write a song like Thunder Road.

The American Revolution, bare bones,  readable, relatable and memorable. If only Mr. Stevens at South High School  had a copy of  LAFAYETTE IN THE SOMEWHAT UNITED STATES.  I would have known so much more, so much earlier!

Also by Sarah Vowell, Unfamiliar Fishes, The Wordy Pilgrims, Assassination Vacation, The Partly Cloudy Patriot, Take the Cannoli, Radio On.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BORN TO RUN/ BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN

Born To Run is a compelling, required read for every Bruce Springsteen fan. This autobiography is so real the ink on the pages become the juices of life and the soul and sound of his music. Add an in-depth  understanding of this unique human, talent, writer, troubadour  and survivor.

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Born To Run is a marvelous book for all  because it is the genuine and believable story behind Springsteen’s stardom. There is not an ounce of vanity among the pages.  It is  a story of how music is made, songs are written and why honesty and credibility count.

Born To Run is extraordinary in its humanity. It is a loving memoir of a relationship between father and son, of human survival, friendships and of the struggle to find true love amidst the perils of stardom.

Born To Run is a masterpiece, seven years in the writing. Whether or not you have ever attended a concert of the E Street Band, or purchased one of  Springsteen’s mega hits, this autobiography is important.

It all begins with the song!

” My records are always the sound of someone trying to understand where to place his mind and heart. I imagine a life, I try it on, then see how it fits. I walk in someone else’s shoes, down the sunny and dark roads.”

” Something as seemingly inconsequential as music does certain things very well. There’s a coming together and a lifting, a fortifying, that occurs when people gather and move in  time with one another. It’s a beautiful thing.”

Anthem’s from an artist who came from a dead-end, took a road less traveled and found incomprehensible success. Trust me. You will quickly understand.  Born To Run is beautiful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HACKING BEFORE THE COMPUTER AGE/ CODE WARRIORS/ STEPHEN BUDIANSKY

Stephen Budiansky’s scholarly book CODE WARRIORS, NSA’S CODEBREAKERS AND THE SECRET INTELLIGENCE WAR AGAINST THE SOVIET UNION is a detailed history of the NSA and the historical herculean and expensive effort to crack the codes and cyphers of the enemies of America dating back to pre WWII.  From the successful breaking of the German Enigma code to intercepting and deciphering war-time radio signals, Code Warriors details the massive U.S. intelligence  gathering mechanism that blossomed into a billions of dollars bureaucracy complete with the intrigue of politics, fighting factions and competing egos.

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Budiansky’s impeccable research sets the stage for today’s headlines as the world of hacking and high speed computers has replaced machines that mechanically spun alphabetical and numbered wheels to crack codes of friends and enemies alike.  The author’s pages are not always kind to the  NSA or the CIA.

It almost seems simplistic  that America once constructed huge antenna arrays worldwide to capture information  sometimes with questionable legality. Early satellites intercepted radio signals and a tunnel under the Berlin Wall tapped into Soviet communications.  America spent additional billions safeguarding its own classified military and diplomatic messaging but the Soviets kept pace and the information race equalled the arms race. It all came under the umbrella of signals intelligence.

While Alan Turing and a staff of hundreds took months to crack the German codes at Bletchley Park, today lone wolf hackers invade secret government and private  files with the impunity of key strokes.

Budiansky details the NSA’s obsession with capturing every possible syllable of signal intelligence and then attempting to decipher and make sense of all of the information. The book begs the question as to whether NSA codebreakers have also become hackers as the narrative  transcends  current events.

Code Warrior’s is  valiant in its effort to make highly technical material  understandable for the layman and place the subject in the context of its vital importance in the major world events of the past seventy-five years.

Stephen Budiansky also wrote Blackett’s War and Perilous Fight.

 

 

 

 

 

MARIO CUOMO/ NEW FROM WILLIAM O’SHAUGHNESSY/ A TIMELY LOOK BACK

Mario Cuomo called him “Brother Bill.”  Therefore, who better than William O’Shaughnessy to publish MARIO CUOMO, Remembrances of  a Remarkable Man.  The book captures their personal relationship  and the unique openness between them. The author shares countless previously unpublished interviews with Mario Cuomo both before and after his  governorship. The author peels back the pages of many of Cuomo’s most remarkable speeches,  delivered by the person who is deemed the best political orator of his day. O’Shaughnessy bares personal witness to Mario Cuomo’s interactions with the famous and less famous.

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O’Shaughnessy has always possessed an impeccable sense of timing. After all he is a radio guy, a medium that lives in the present.  We are  currently in the moment of a political  campaign for the leadership of the free world where neither candidate is trusted by a majority of the American people. The word “orator” will find no place in the newspeak of today. To the contrary, O’Shaughnessy’s  Mario Cuomo reads as a tribute to trustworthiness, statesmanship, vision, empathy, oratory, gravitas and grace. Cuomo’s words leap from the tome’s pages with themes of a “higher calling.”  The book begs the question; What happened to our national discourse?

Mario Cuomo is filled with anecdotal insight into the governor, his friends, his day-to-day, his family and his lifestyle  evolving into a tableau describing why he was admired by millions and loved by those closest to him. Will we see the likes of Mario Cuomo again? O’Shaughnessy is hopeful.

William O’Shaughnessy is president and editorial director of Whitney Media. He has written four other books: Vox Populi, More Riffs, Rants, and Raves, It All Comes Back to Me Now and Airwaves.