While sitting here in southeast GA waiting for Hurricane Dorian to hopefully make a turn northeast, here goes with a blog post attempt about some scattershot ponderings of mine.
First pondering – The modern media, modern weather reporting and modern politicizing everything, leaves a worrier like me totally exhausted trying to make it through day-after-day of evacuation notices and constant updates with Hurricane Dorian. The media escalation started before the end of last week and now it seems likely to dog the US until the end of this week. The warning overload has me to the point of yearning for this stupid storm to hit, so we can just get it over with.
Second pondering deals with reading and my self-education efforts, which brought to mind a comment by former Secretary of Defence, James Mattis, while discussing his new book in an interview. Mattis said:
The Strategy Bridge@Strategy_Bridge“If you haven’t read hundreds of books, you are functionally illiterate, and you will be incompetent, because your personal experiences alone aren’t broad enough to sustain you.” – James Mattis What are you reading this weekend? #TheBridgeReads #WeekendBridge
6:15 AM · Aug 31, 2019
As with just about everything in our culture today, this statement by Mattis evoked attacks against Mattis on Twitter, from partisans on both sides. It seems like the extreme partisan voices want to tear down people more than they want to pause and look for some common ground.
One of my favorite things to do when I visit the home of someone new for the first time is look around for reading material, to try figure out the people who live there. When I first learned of Mattis’ large book collection, the thought popped into my head that it would be very interesting to snoop around his book shelves. Even more interesting would be to have casual chats with him about books, especially find out what sparked his interest in reading.
I’ve read a lot of books over the years, but assuredly nowhere near as many as James Mattis has read. Even more than the sheer number of books though, Mattis is getting at something vastly more important than just reading. He’s talking about reading leading to the development of critical thinking skills, which forms the core we need in principled leadership.
Several years ago, JK, a long-time commenter on my blog, recommended a helpful book, Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs To Know, written by E.D. Hirsh. which can set anyone on the path toward becoming a well-read person. Recently I was reading this book again and decided to work through another book, purchased many years ago, except I couldn’t find it… after searching through my books in the living room, computer room, bedrooms and in my sewing and craft room. It will show up again, because, trust me, books rarely leave my house.
Anyway, I find a lot of older books at Thriftbooks.com and with a $10 order, shipping is free there. I found that book there for $4.79, so I bought it, along with two other books. Here’s the list:
The Intellectual Devotional: Revive Your Mind, Complete Your Education, and Roam Confidently with the Cultured Class by David S. Kidder & Noah D. Oppenheimer
The Intellectual Devotional, American History, Revive Your Mind, Complete Your Education, and Roam Confidently with the Cultured Class by David S. Kidder & Noah D. Oppenheimer
West With The Night by Beryl Markham
These intellectual devotional books are intended to be quick daily readings (a page or so) covering a broad range of topics and often there are additional facts at the end of each entry, which can point you toward other reading on the topic you might want to explore. Despite all my good intentions to work my way through the classics and hoping to get through the entire “five foot shelf” of books, an early 20th century Harvard president, Dr. Charles W. Eliot, compiled in 1910, as a roadmap to acquiring a liberal education, often my reading veers toward popular fiction and even, way too many historical romance novels. Eliot believed that the average reader could acquire a sound liberal education by devoting just 15 minutes a day to reading through his list of classics.
Of course, that 15 minutes a day sounds easy, but just reading classics for a certain amount of time daily doesn’t work for me, especially when it comes to trying to absorb more complicated ideas and concepts. Last week, when ordering another JK book recommendation, Between Two Worlds: How the English Became Americans, by Malcolm Gaskill, I ordered, The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had, by Susan Wise Bauer.
If you love older books Thriftbooks works great. I found the Bauer book in hardcover, like new condition for $6.39. Wise offers an organized way to approach reading the classics and she has this book divided into chronologically-based lists, to help you build a base of knowledge to give you the tools to digest the other books, as you work through the lists.
In a few months, I’ll let you know how this approach works out… if I can only devote more time to studying the classics than to reading romance novels and popular fiction, lol.
My last pondering is whenever you think you’ve seen it all, something will come up on the internet, that leaves you wondering, “what the hell is she thinking?” So, here goes with just such a Hurricane Dorian story: Florida woman wrapping home in plastic ahead of Hurricane Dorian. I sent this news link to my daughter in TX and told her that I think the wind will likely rip that duct taped plastic off her house in minutes. My daughter responded, “Yeah… you can’t fix stupid.”
Tomorrow is supposed to be our hurricane encounter, so the power will likely be out and I have a stack of books ready to read