Tuesday Tidbits January 20

Okay, okay, I know I said I wouldn’t write a book review.  However, I am currently reading, The Empire of Cotton by Sven Beckert, and its so darn good I can barely contain my enthusiasm. Reading one chapter a day (they are long chapters) I am making great progress, and should finish it by Sunday.

First, this book is an economic history.  I know many people don’t like history let alone economics, but if you want to know how we as a global community arrived here, its important to understand economics, especially agricultural economics.  We humans must eat and we wear clothes, not to say anything about our other needs.  And we keep reproducing ourselves, so substance agriculture, we relied on for millennia is no longer feasible.

Second, I may be overeducated, but this book seems very accessible.

This morning, I read the chapter about the U.S. Civil War.  No, I didn’t read about Lincoln’s troubles or the battles which were awful.  I read about the war’s effect on the world economy.  When the U. S. cotton monopoly was destroyed by the U. S. government, the whole world was affected.  A very fascinating chapter as David and I watch the Jewel in the Crown on PBS again, about the last days of the British Raj.

India was profoundly affected by the U. S. Civil War, as was Egypt. Ditto, Algeria and Brazil. We hear a lot about the European potato famine and other disasters, but the rise and fall of cotton affected as many if not more people. European economies were so interlocked with that of the U. S. that when the cotton supplies from the U. S. diminished as a result of the war, people, owners and workers alike, dependent on the ‘dark Satanic’ cotton mills were devastated.

I knew most of this indirectly, because I concentrated on economic issues in Europe, while I was working on my graduate history degree.  However, Beckert pulls it all together in one place.  A great read.


After struggling with it for days, David finally hauled his decrepit desktop computer to the shop for repair.  He built this computer in the 1980s, and he loves it, but I think the end is here.  My old desktop computer resides on his workshop bench.  Its been there for a couple of years. David says he can fix it.  Maybe he can, but I said, why don’t you take it to the computer guy?

What you must understand is that this is a struggle over income taxes.  I refuse to put the TurboTax software on my laptop.  Well, that’s a lie.  I have a copy of TurboTax on my laptop, and I refuse to update it.  Next year, I tell him, next year.  I want him to do the taxes as long as he can. I suggested we could contact AARP for assistance if necessary, and he says nothing. Perhaps he’s considering it?

I could prepare the taxes if I had to, but want him to do something to keep his brain cells active.  He’s 86 this year, and mostly, all he does these days is make the odd trip to the grocery store and sleep. He complains about the grocery shopping, so I have been making the trip with him, or was until I fell down last week. My leg is black and purple and yellow, but better.


Yesterday, when I was working on my family tree, I discovered my Great-grandmother Jane was a servant girl before she married. Thus, I have found relatives on both sides of the family were servants and before them indentured servants. Perhaps this is why I care so fervently about labor issues.  More work today on my family tree, and, I am making Chili con Carne, Texas style for our dinner.

For Denise: David liked the Garam Masala and the spices did not upset him one bit.

Tomorrow, granddaughter Rita turns 22.  Her father (for most of her life)  formally adopted her last week to celebrate.  You go girl! Below, Rita and Joy, then and now.

Then and now…Rita and Joy

Then and now…Rita and Joy

15 thoughts on “Tuesday Tidbits January 20

  1. It is a good idea to keep his brain cells working. I say this while admitting that we send our taxes to an accountant. I’m glad you’re healing. Going to the grocery store is exercise which is good for David too. The girls were adorable when little and gorgeous now.


  2. Tuesday reply: Yes, even if he is pooped he needs to get moving. Walking 20 minutes a day seems to be the trick. The water was too cold this morning for walking, so we ALL got out early and talked in the hot tub.

    Hope your leg get’s better soon. Did the doc do an exRay? Did I ever tell you I did a long thesis on architectural history where I claimed that the Civil War was a railroad war. George still teases me about that.


  3. I’m glad that David enjoyed the recipe. I had one blogger who tried another and didn’t enjoy it, so I always wonder how others will be received. Thanks for letting me know. Your granddaughters are adorable in both photos, and what a lovely birthday gift. Gregg just bought our Turbo Tax software from CostCo this morning. Fascinating how the cotton industry affected so many countries.


  4. The Global economy is anything but new. The ‘butterfly flapping it’s wings causing a storm’ half a world away thing. Those histories are great and oddly enough I’m reading an Anne Perry mystery “Seven Dials” with a plot based that includes the struggle in Victorian times for cotton manufacturing between Egypt and England. The real story is interesting and gripping as well.

    I am happy to have AARP do my taxes each year but I think it is important for us all to have something that taxes (pardon the pun) the brain.


  5. My hubby adopted my 2 year old daughter a few months after we married. They have a nice relationship.
    I wonder how dependent Europe is on the USA now. We all know how dependent the USA is on China, because they lend us money, lots of money.


    • The girls are very happy about this event. They have thought of Bill as their dad most of their lives.

      All countries are economically interdependent on each other and have been for centuries. That’s why I snort in derision when some Americans act as if this is a recent situation. And the Chinese are as dependent on us economically as we are on them.


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