10 July 2010


MARK TWAIN. One hundred years after his death, the complete and uncensored autobiography of one of America's finest writers is about to be published. Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens) was a writer, essayist, lecturer, world traveler, humorist, iconoclast and satirist who feared no man or institution, and who did not suffer fools gladly. Born in 1835, Twain outgrew the prejudices of his time, and in his adulthood spoke out against imperialism, war, slavery, and organized religion -- and spoke out for the rights of women, Native Americans, labor unions, and revolutions against tyranny.

There have been previously published editions of Twain's autobiography, all heavily redacted by his heirs and editors. In the new unexpurgated edition, the master storyteller of Tom Sawyer, The Innocents Abroad, Life on the Mississippi, Letters from the Earth, and his masterpiece The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, among many other published works, also emerges as a highly political man, unhesitant in expressing his often-acerbic views. I cannot wait.

CEOs. Paul Krugman, NYTimes columnist and economist, speaks plainly and to the point in his Pity the Poor CEOs. In a time when unemployment is hovering around ten percent, the housing market is in a shambles, and banks are being shored up by the federal government, first-quarter corporate profits are up 44 percent from a year earlier. Yet CEOs are nervous, fearing (rightly so) the prospect of increased regulation and accountability after decades of reckless abandon during the Reagan-Bush-Bush years. The average CEO makes between 300 and 600 times what his/her average employee earns. They are even more egregiously overpaid than sports stars are, yet few question whether or not they deserve such largesse. Where's Mark Twain when we need him?

ROAD TRIPS. Just for fun, check out 12 Unexpected History Trips - click on each picture to bring up its relevant description. We are surrounded by our own history, and too often oblivious to the fact. I know Arizonans who have never seen the Grand Canyon, New Yorkers who have never been to the American Museum of Natural History, Pennsylvanians who have not immersed themselves in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, South Carolinians who have never confronted their own past at Charleston's Old Slave Market, and yes, Montanans who have never experienced the grandeur of Glacier National Park. Whether you enjoy cultural history, natural history or both, your world will be enriched if you go out of your way to explore -- and enriched even more if you take along your kids or grandkids. Cheers.

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