All posts tagged: Molly Ivins

Stretch Your Mind

We have an “almost unlimited ability to ignore our ignorance.” With that simple observation, the Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman, writing in his landmark book Thinking, Fast and Slow, gets at the heart of how we create an illusion of understanding even when our knowledge is limited or based on false information. The week after the redacted Mueller report was released to the public seems an appropriate time to explore Kahneman’s assertion.  Everywhere one turns there are those making stronger and stronger claims based on less and less factual evidence, even when those facts are clear and in the public realm.  One of the culprits is most certainly the way we now consume news. We skim or graze over news feeds from sources chosen by tech giants’ algorithms, so that we grasp only the barest of essentials run through a filter of group think. In The Knowledge Illusion: Why We Never Think Alone, cognitive scientists Steven Sloman and Philip Fernbach argue that we vastly overestimate what we know (a point also made by Kahneman).  Quoting Sloman and …

The More Things Change…1998 to 2017

My father loved to read Molly Ivins.  Her brand of populist liberalism, her concern for the powerless, her razor-sharp wit were all right up his alley.  As a New Deal Democrat, Daddy didn’t have much sympathy for corporate-backed, hypocritical, poll-watching politicians. So when I went to my father’s house earlier this year to help clear out his library, I brought home the four Ivins books he had at the time plus a biography of the Texas firebrand.  Daddy had almost all of Ivins’ works, but some he had given away.  (He once gave me a copy of one of her books that he said he had purchased at the remainder table at the local bookstore, only to come home and find out he already had two copies of the same book.) I was looking for a quick and lively read a few days ago after working through a couple of more difficult offerings, and pulled You Got to Dance with Them What Brung You off the bookshelf.  This is Ivins’ 1998 take on the Clinton …

A Republic, If You Can Keep It

When asked, following the Constitutional Convention, what kind of government had been created, Benjamin Franklin made a now famous reply.  “A republic, if you can keep it.” Those words have been on my mind a great deal in recent weeks.  I wonder why? Could it be the calls from those who want us to seal the borders, shut off all immigration into the U.S., and deport 11 million individuals?  Could it be presidential candidates saying – when a decision is made that recognizes that we are a secular nation and not based on religious law – that we have “criminalized Christianity?” Could it be the calls to register Muslims and to reopen the internment camps of WWII?  When I hear these speeches, I’m reminded of the late great Molly Ivins’ quip about Patrick Buchanan’s famously combative “culture wars” speech at the 1992 Republican National Convention:  It probably sounded better in the original German. But that’s not why I sat down to write. I’ve read three books over the past couple of months that all bring …

60 Lessons From 60 Years

Here are 60 things I’ve learned in my (now) 60 years of life: 1.  Discipline is remembering what you really want. 2.  The graveyard is full of folks who thought the world couldn’t get along without them. (Mary Dixie Bearden Brown and others) 3.  Baseball is (much) better than football. 4.  I have been lucky in love. 5.  Few things sound better than a solo acoustic guitar played by Doc Watson (Deep River Blues), Tony Rice, (Shenandoah), or Norman Blake (Church Street Blues). Or, if you want to go next generation, Bryan Sutton (Texas Gales). 6.  Good things can come from bad situations, if you’ll stop wallowing in your sorrow and seek out the good. 7.  I have become my father.  I repeat many of the same stories. (Did you know that I paid more for my last car than for my first house?)  I read funny articles from the newspaper out loud at the dining room table, sometimes to the consternation of my wife and children. I cackle when I laugh. I am a …