One short book that is recommended for studying the modern presidency is the The Presidential Difference: Leadership Style from FDR to George W. Bush. Princeton professor Greenstein seeks to explain why presidents succeed or fail in this account of the 12 most recent presidents. He measures the presidents on six scales: public communication, organizational capacity, political skill, vision, cognitive style and emotional intelligence. What is necessary, Greenstein says, is a proper mix of these skills. George H. W. Bush did not have "the vision thing." Political skills could not save Lyndon Johnson. Organizational skills did not do much for Jimmy Carter. Nixon's cognitive skills could not save him either. The author contends that the highest ranked skill for what the successful president needs is emotional intelligence or what could also be called "psychological wellness". Greenstein describes emotional intelligence as "the president's ability to manage his emotions and turn them to constructive purposes, rather than being dominated by them, and allowing them to diminish his leadership.”
February 2008 Blogs
Isak Dinesen's last decade in Africa alternated between moments of great happiness with Denys, and long weeks, even months, of illness and despair. Finally, in 1931, after the financial collapse of her farm, she was making plans to return to Denmark when she received the worst news of her difficult life--Denys Finch Hatton had crashed his plane and was dead.
Denisen’s book Out of Africa is a memoir of her life in Africa, but in the book Denys is only a friend. The movie of the same title brings out the more intimate details of their relationship.
In the movie, Out of Africa, Dinesen (played by Meryl Streep) says:
"Now take back the soul of Denys George Finch Hatton, whom You have shared with us. He brought us joy...we loved him well. He was not ours. He was not mine."
The library has the book, the soundtrack and the film.
I’ve lived in Texas all my life. I own a couple of suits and a canvas jacket. That’s it. No wool coat or parka to keep me warm in Gotham. Fortunately, the traveling librarian has a friend from Ohio who graciously loaned a wool coat. Armed with said coat, a camera, and a discreet map I headed to New York. Some highlights: soul food at Sylvia’s (Bill O’Reilly and Al Sharpton enjoyed a dinner there in September), a stroll around the new Yankee Stadium, a wonderful rainy walk through Central Park, and sneaker shopping in Manhattan and Brooklyn with a good friend.
Despite being outfitted in my average librarian get-up, I was “accepted” into the eponymous sneaker boutique Alife Rivington Club. The store has no sign and the door is locked. To enter, you ring a buzzer and wait, hoping that a sneakerhead working inside deems you worthy of entry into this well-cultivated world of sneaker exclusivity. I got in, but $200 for some purple shoes is too rich for my blood. Brooklyn and its $40 sneakers is more to my liking.
All this meandering served as an appetizer for the meat of the trip. Publishers, writers, and editors abounded at the AWP Conference. Stumbling like some giddy literary fanboy from panel to panel, I heard a veritable feast of contemporary American writers: Lydia Davis, Francine Prose, Jennifer Egan, Alice McDermott, Karen Russell, Charles Baxter, and Percival Everett to name a few. Pick up a novel or story collection by one of these incredible writers. There is no buzzer to ring. Just grab a book and you’re in the club.
St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves
February is Black History Month, and most of us don’t think of science fiction when we commemorate all the great African American literature that we have to enjoy. Last year's release of Acacia , the first of a planned fantasy trilogy by black historical-fiction writer David Anthony Durham, brought attention to the small number of black writers writing speculative fiction.
In a July 2007 Boston Globe interview, Durham said that Acacia had been in the back of his mind since the late 1990s. What spurred him to write the trilogy was "The Lord of the Rings" films. Durham watched the three movies many times, and was frustrated by the almost mono-racial cast of characters, where "the only people of color who didn't have speaking lines were the minions imported for the dark lords."
And listen to an NPR piece at http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=12742905
Recommended titles at the Austin Public Library
The Coyote Kings of the Space Age Bachelor Pad by Minister Faust
Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora
Dark Matter: Reading the Bones edited by Sheree Thomas
Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delany
Futureland by Walter Mosley
Iron Shadows by Steven Barnes
Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
My Soul to Keep by Tananarive Due