"Every line we succeed in publishing today — no matter how uncertain the future to which we entrust it — is a victory wrenched from the powers of darkness."
—Walter Benjamin, in a 1940 letter, written shortly before the German Jewish thinker and critic took his own life rather than surrendering to the Nazis
So Much Good Reading
When we get busy, it's so easy to cheat a little and stop doing--if even only for a little while--some of the small but crucial things that made us successful in the first place. Things such as staying in shape, staying in touch (even with those with whom we're not doing business) and staying informed. The last two, of course, are closely related--especially for those who get more news and useful information from their friends, peers and contacts than they do from reading. And as someone who reads perhaps too much for my own good sometime, that's of course the easiest thing to carve out of the schedule. But I'm often reminded that, come hell or high water, I lessen my reading only at my own risk. As both food for an impossibly hungry mind and grist for my work--I am, after all, in the information business--cutting back on reading would only be shooting myself in the foot. And so I find that rather than cutting back on reading, I steal that time from elsewhere--rising an hour earlier or going to bed an hour later, even carving out time for reading breakfasts or lunches. And if I haven't slacked off on one of those other crucial things I just mentioned--staying in shape--I won't need as much sleep anyway, will I?
Anyway, all of this is merely introduction to a new resolve of mine as it relates to Working With Words: I'll be sharing with readers of this site more of the great stuff I've been reading (some of which, of course, isn't online, but at least I can point you to the hard-copy coordinates). And then you can decide for yourself whether some of it might warrant you getting up a few minutes earlier or staying up a tad later. Heck, perhaps we can even agree to meet for an all-reading, silent lunch sometime (with you buying, natch). We could pattern it after the old "Rush Rooms" where, during the heyday of Rush Limbaugh, his fans would meet at various lunch spots that would agree to pipe in his rants to accompany lunch. Only in our case, there'd be no radio. We'd merely nod to each other, sit down to eat and read, and then shake hands afterward and head back to our afternoon schedules...
CAP Is Now Accepting Online Donations
. I'm happy to report that my favorite local charity, Computers Assisting People, which recycles used technology for deployment in low-wealth environments, is now ready to accept donations online. Just go to the site
, and scroll down just a bit to the Make a Donation button. As a longtime volunteer and friend of the organization and its founder, Dan Hanson
, I can attest to the fact that every dollar you give goes so much further here than at just about any other nonprofit organization. That's because the network of volunteers is so large and the reputation of the organization so good (and growing), and its volunteer army has now been supplemented by a handful of generous charitable grants, which underwrite the ever-wider scope of its work. So please consider this cause in your charitable giving. I dropped $25 into the bucket today. Anyone care to join me? If you like, you can send it in your own name, in the name of your organization, or even bundle it along with contributions from other readers of Working With Words. Your call entirely...
Lawyers Scattering to the Wind.
Ever wonder what's become of the lawyers who once comprised Cleveland's fifth-largest law firm, Arter & Hadden (which disssolved earlier this year)? Here's a roster
of where they've since landed. By far the largest group--by my count, 88 in all--have gone to Tucker Ellis & West
. And since the entire firm has fewer than 100 attorneys in its Cleveland, L.A. and San Francisco offices, I'd say that means it pretty well qualifies as son of Arter & Hadden...
What I've Been Reading
. Finally, as promised, here's a quick rundown on some things I think might be worth your while to read. This piece in Discover
is an interesting take on the web-tracking site Technorati and other tools which allow you to assemble your own online reading menu. This illuminating interview
with journalistic/civic hero Bill Moyers reminds me of why he's so crucial to our public dialogue. And he's yet another smart person who sings the opraises of Comedy Central's Jon Stewart, calling him "the most astute political analyst working today." Well, not to quibble, but I'd say he's among them (with Moyers himself ranking a bit ahead). The incomparable New York Review of Books
, which recently celebrated its 40th anniversary (it was begun during a prolonged newspaper strike in New York), keeps outdoing itself, each week offering up a banquet of some of the greatest writers working in English, who take on the most interesting books and subjects. Here, Paul Krugman writes well
about a couple of new and important books by liberals on the topic of George Bush. Elsewhere, much has been written about Barbara Ehrenreich and her book Nickle & Dimed
, which charts the difficulties of America's working poor by going undercover to work among them. But this new piece
in Columbia Journalism Review is perhaps the best I've read about both the woman and her book. And I was amazed to learn that the book has kept right on selling, with 800,000 copies now in print, an impossibly large number for such a serious and impassioned tome on class politics. And finally, New Yorker
media writer Ken Auletta (who just happens to have coined the term "underclass" some years ago) weighs in with his latest
meaty exploration of the American media landscape, a great look at the delicate financial balancing act of the family-owned Wall Street Journal
. This is truly must-read stuff...