Monday, June 15, 2015

Evelyn Waugh's diaries

Evelyn Waugh

I like Evelyn Waugh's novels. Sword of Honor, a trilogy about World War 2, is one of my favorites. But no one but a specialist should bother reading The Diaries of Evelyn Waugh. Waugh himself would surely be shocked that it's been published at all. Most of the entries are about eating and drinking and who he was eating and drinking with. I read it because I knew I would be rewarded with nuggets like these:

Later: I meant to include this:

29 August 1943
...I have got so bored with everything military that I can no longer remember the simplest details. I dislike the Army. I  want to get to work again. I do not want any more experiences in life. I have quite enough bottled and carefully laid in the cellar, some still ripening, most ready for drinking, a little beginning to lose its body. I wrote to Frank[Pakenham] very early in the war to say that its chief use would be to cure artists of the illusion that they are men of action. It has worked its cure with me. I have succeeded, too, in dissociating myself very largely with the rest of the world. I am not impatient of its manifest follies and don't want to influence opinions or events, or to expose humbug or anything of that kind. I don't want to be of service to anyone or anything. I simply want to do my work as an artist.

Saturday 13 November 1943
...There is a great deal of talk at the moment about the rocket guns which the Germans are said to have set up in France, with a range to carry vast explosive charges to London. This fear is seriously entertained in the highest quarters. I have accordingly given orders for the books I have been keeping at the Hyde Park Hotel to be sent to Piers Court. At the same time I have advocated my son coming to London. It would seem from this that I prefer my books to my son. I can argue that firemen rescue children and destroy books, but the truth is that a child is easily replaced while a book destroyed is utterly lost; also a child is eternal; but most that I have a sense of absolute possession over my library and not over my nursery.

Monday 23 December 1946
The presence of my children affects me with deep weariness and depression. I do not see them until luncheon, as I have my breakfast alone in the library and they are in fact well trained to avoid my part of the house; but I am aware of them from the moment I wake. Luncheon is very painful. Teresa has a mincing habit of speech and a pert, humourless style of wit; Bron is clumsy and disheveled, sly, without intellectual, aesthetic or spiritual interest; Margaret is pretty and below the age of reason. In the nursery whooping cough rages I believe. At tea I meet the three elder children again and they ursurp the drawing-room until it is time to dress for dinner...

March 1964
Randolph Churchill went into have a lung removed. It was announced that the trouble was not 'malignant'. Seeing Ed Stanley in White's, on my way to Rome, I remarked that it was a typical triumph of modern science to find the only part of Randolph that was not malignant and remove it...

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800 cops and $1 million a day!?

Watching the daily headline stories about the escaped prisoners in upstate New York raises questions: Granted these guys are dangerous and the authorities should make a serious effort to capture them, at what point does this kind of police action become grotesquely out of proportion to the threat and against the public interest? There are now 800 law enforcement people searching the countryside at a cost of $1 million a day. What supposedly necessary jobs were all those people doing before the escape?

It's like police car chases and San Francisco's "pursuit policy": 

When it becomes apparent that the benefits of immediate apprehension are clearly outweighed by an unreasonable danger to the officer or others, the officer shall not initiate a pursuit or, if the pursuit is already in progress, the officer shall terminate the pursuit.

But those chases continue, though it's not unusual that they cause injury and death to bystanders:

"On Monday, two people driving in front of the Westfield Mall in downtown San Francisco were hurt in a crash allegedly cause be a wanted felon who was trying to evade police. In April, Bridget Klecker will killed while in a Financial District crosswalk. Police say the car that hit her was carrying three men who were suspects in an armed robbery spree. Police Chief Greg Suhr acknowledges that pursuits can be dangerous, but said that why their policy limits them only to situations involving violent felons."


Debating San Francisco's housing crisis

I don't often find Tim Redmond's blog helpful in understanding local issues, but his latest (Why market-rate housing makes the crisis worse) at least raises the relevant questions. Reading the take-no-prisoners comments is also essential:

Peter Cohen and Fernando Marti at the Council of Community Housing Organizations have dropped a bombshell on the standard City Hall analysis of affordable housing. In an op-ed in Sunday’s Examiner, the two explain how market-rate housing construction is NOT the main source of financing for affordable housing.

In fact, they note, the money that market-rate developers pay to subsidize affordable units doesn’t even cover the housing impacts that their projects create.

Let me say that again, because it’s critical (and not easily understood, and should have a profound impact on policies like the Mission Moratorium): If you require less than about 40 percent affordable housing, the net impact of high-end construction is to make the housing market worse.

How is that possible? How could building more housing (at any level) be a net problem for the housing market? Doesn’t more housing trickle down and make things better for everyone?...

See also this and this from Planetizen.

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