hard heads soft hearts

a scratch pad for half-formed thoughts by a liberal political junkie who's nobody special. ''Hard Heads, Soft Hearts'' is the title of a book by Princeton economist Alan Blinder, and tends to be a favorite motto of neoliberals, especially liberal economists.

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Monday, August 31, 2009
Via Yglesias, Everyone should read the New Yorker article by David Grann, about the almost certain innocence of Cameron Willingham, executed for arson-murder in 2004. The arson investigator created a lot of stylized "facts" "proving" arson, which turned out not to be true.



However, the arson detective, though he contributed to executing an innocent man, wasn't evil. He believed that he was in posession of the truth. The article was saddening, and angering, but what it ultimately drove home to to me is the importance of doing your best, trying to be as competent and as good as you can, at all levels of society.

. . .Willingham’s mother and father began to cry. “Don’t be sad, Momma,” Willingham said. “In fifty-five minutes, I’m a free man. I’m going home to see my kids.” Earlier, he had confessed to his parents that there was one thing about the day of the fire he had lied about. He said that he had never actually crawled into the children’s room. “I just didn’t want people to think I was a coward,” he said. Hurst [authentic fire expert who reviewed Willingham's case, and proved his innocence] told me, “People who have never been in a fire don’t understand why those who survive often can’t rescue the victims. They have no concept of what a fire is like.” . . .

. . .After his death, his parents were allowed to touch his face for the first time in more than a decade. Later, at Willingham’s request, they cremated his body and secretly spread some of his ashes over his children’s graves. He had told his parents, “Please don’t ever stop fighting to vindicate me.” . . .

. . .Just before Willingham received the lethal injection, he was asked if he had any last words. He said, “The only statement I want to make is that I am an innocent man convicted of a crime I did not commit. I have been persecuted for twelve years for something I did not do. From God’s dust I came and to dust I will return, so the Earth shall become my throne.”

Thursday, August 27, 2009
decided to read James Tobin's Nobel lecture, and in the first section he quotes a Keynes passage I had never read before.



"1.3. Macro-Economics and Full General Equilibrium

. . .Were there a full set of simultaneously cleared markets for all commodities, including commodities for future and contingent delivery, there would be no macro-economic problems, no need for money, and no room for fiscal and monetary policies of stabilization. . .

. . .the departure that sets the stage for macro-economic theory and policy, is one emphasized by Keynes. It is the virtual absence of futures markets and of course contingent markets in any commodities other than money itself. As Keynes said (1936, pp. 210-212),

An act of individual saving means - so to speak - a decision not to have dinner today. But it does not necessitate a decision to have dinner or to buy a pair of boots a week hence or a year hence or to consume any specified thing at any specified date. Thus it depresses the business of preparing today’s dinner without stimulating the business of making ready for some future act of consumption. It is not a substitution of future consumption-demand for present consumption-demand, - it is a net diminution of such demand ... If saving consisted not merely in abstaining from present consumption but in placing simultaneously a specific order for future consumption, the effect might indeed be different. For in that case the expectation of some future yield from investment would be improved, and the resources released from preparing for present consumption would be turned over to preparing for the future consumption. The trouble arises, therefore, because the act of saving implies, not a substitution for present consumption of some specific additional consumption which requires for its preparation just as much immediate economic activity as would have been required by present consumption equal in value to the sum saved, but a desire for “wealth” as such, that is for a potentiality of consuming an unspecified article at an unspecified time.

In short, the financial and capital markets, are at their best highly imperfect coordinators of saving and investment, an inadequacy which I suspect cannot be remedied by rational expectations. This failure of coordination is a fundamental source of macro-economic instability and of the opportunity for macroeconomic policies of stabilization. Current macro-economic theory perhaps pays too exclusive attention to labor markets, where Keynes also detected failures of competition to coordinate demand and supply. . ."

I'd guess the last sentence is a gentle criticism of the econ 101 catechism that recessions occur because prices, especially wages, are too "sticky" and refuse to fall sufficiently, and therefore the cure for recession is to enable deeper wage cuts. It always struck me as rather thin, now I guess I know why.

Monday, August 24, 2009
Not sure what Squidoo is, but they have a great page ("lens"), written/compiled/organized by janices7, about Millenium Promise:


"Millennium Promise - A Proven Way To End Extreme Poverty. . .

. . .My Call To Action - Raise $1.5 Million

After deciding Millennium Promise was the most effective approach to solving this problem, I brainstormed to come up with ways that I could assist the charity. I like to think big! Thinking small means that you will achieve small. With that in mind, I decided that I needed to find a way to raise the $1.5 million. This is the amount necessary to fully fund a Millennium Village of 5,000 people for the initial five years. Of course, I know that it will take a village of people to sponsor a village.

Virtual Millennium Village Poverty Ladder

So to facilitate small business and individual participation, I started what is known as a 'poverty ladder' with an overall goal to raise $1.5 million. The poverty ladder is called the Virtual Millennium Village, Tanzania (since all proceeds will sponsor a village in the Mbola region of Tanzania). Millennium Promise enables folks who start a poverty ladder the ability to track all the funds contributed directly to the ladder.

Partnering with Small Businesses

I am working to find online business and retailers that will sponsor a portion of the overall ladder. For instance, [removed for Google link reasons] has generously set a goal of $200,000 to be raised by the company and their customers. They are asking customers to contribute either $1, $2, $5 or $10 with each gift purchase. And they are matching one for one the funds contributed by their customers. I have also been able to get [removed for Google link reasons] to use the same type of customer contribution and matching system so that they can ask bride's to open their hearts to the Virtual Millennium Village - Tanzania project as well.

Contributing From Squidoo & Social Networking

I am also funding the ladder by contributing my online proceeds from this Squidoo page and other social networking pages that I operate directly to the poverty ladder.

Family - Friend - Public Contributions

Finally, I am asking all my friends and family and all of you to get involved. I know that we can raise the funds! . ."

Friday, August 14, 2009
re: access to health care & saving and improving lives, Ezra and others are linking to this January 2008 report from the Urban Institute (written by Stan Dorn):




The absence of health insurance creates a range of consequences, including lower quality of life, increased morbidity and mortality, and higher financial burdens. This paper focuses on just one aspect of this harm—namely, greater risk of death—and seeks to illustrate its general order of magnitude.

In 2002, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) estimated that 18,000 Americans died in 2000 because they were uninsured. Since then, the number of uninsured has grown. Based on the IOM's methodology and subsequent Census Bureau estimates of insurance coverage, 137,000 people died from 2000 through 2006 because they lacked health insurance, including 22,000 people in 2006."

Related Research

Increasing Health Insurance Coverage for High-Cost Older Adults

How We Can Pay for Health Reform

Ousting Obesity: Strategies from the Tobacco Wars

8/19 update:

Also this paper from Families USA:



"10 Reasons to Support The Health Care Reform Bills

The health reform debate is in full swing and proposals are taking shape. Even though key decisions are still being made, it is clear we have gained significant ground. There is much to be excited about in these proposals: Millions more people will gain health insurance, coverage will be more affordable, and people will have access to the health services they need. These provisions will improve the lives of millions of Americans and give us the peace of mind that comes with knowing that we have coverage no matter what. But the road ahead will not be easy. We must continue to work for improvements and we must ensure that we do not lose the gains we have made so far—they are worth fighting for. Below are some highlights in the health care reform proposals.

What we’ll get from health reform:

1. A major expansion of Medicaid coverage—fully federally funded—for millions of low-income working families who currently fall through the cracks

2. A regulated marketplace that clamps down on insurance company abuses so people can no longer be denied coverage

3. Requirements that insurance companies spend more of the premium dollars they collect on patient care

4. Sliding-scale subsidies so middle-class, working families can afford the coverage they need to keep their families healthy

5. A strong public plan option that will provide choice, stability, and an honest yardstick to keep costs down

6. Limits on out-of-pocket spending, giving Americans real health security and peace of mind

7. Much-needed relief for small businesses so they can afford to offer coverage to their employees

8. Improvements to Medicare that will help seniors and people with disabilities afford their drugs and their cost-sharing

9. Better access to coverage for uninsured children so they can get the care they need

10. Long overdue steps to modernize the system, improve the quality of care provided, and curb unnecessary spending so our American health care system delivers the best possible care . . ."

Wednesday, August 12, 2009
The quote from Sayers' "Problem Picture" essay reminded me of a favorite poem by E.V. Rieu,
about algebra textbook-authors Hall & Knight:

"When he was young his cousins used to say of Mr Knight:
'This boy will write an algebra - or looks as if he might.'
And sure enough, when Mr Knight had grown to be a man,
He purchased pen and paper and an inkpot, and began.

But he very soon discovered that he couldn't write at all,
And his heart was filled with yearnings for a certain Mr Hall;
Till, after many years of doubt, he sent his friend a card:
'Have tried to write an Algebra, but find it very hard.' . . ."


Also, this chess poem about the Tumbleweed opening:

"In Seattle, last summer, with nothing to do,
I went to the Chess Club, and there met a Jew
From New Orleans, a rabbi—no matter what name—
Perhaps you have met him, or heard of the same;
He's a player of note, and his problems in chess
Get some mighty good players in an awful bad mess. . .

. . .I played P to K's fourth, which he seemed to approve,
And replied with the same; 'twas a very good move. . .


re: pick-up artists, what really grates is the lack of empathy. Suppose a PUA was the object of desire, suppose there was a woman, or *gasp* a man, who wanted to sleep with him, who he didn't want to sleep with. Do they really believe there exists some magic strategy or technique that would get the PUA into bed, when he didn't want to go?

re: Nice Guys, it seems worth pointing out that there are plenty of Nice Girls too, women platonic-friends who will sit patiently and make sympathetic noises while Himbo bangs on and on about how he only wanted a fling, but the girl is taking it too damn seriously. I guess the big difference is the sense of entitlement - Nice Girls probably don't lapse into thoughts of revenge, payback, threatening/pleading/cajoling/demanding the object of desire conform to their will, as easily as Nice Guys do.

I think CS Lewis in "The Abolition of Man" hit upon a key feature of the modern world: the dogged, hyper-rational, hyper-efficient pursuit, aided by the most advanced science and technology, of our most irrational, and often transient, impulses. "When all that says `It is good' has been debunked, what says `I want' remains."


Checkov, "Uncle Vanya". (also in the movie "Vanya On 42nd Street")

"SONIA. . .[A pause] Tell me, doctor, if I had a friend or a younger sister, and if you knew that she, well--loved you, what would you do?

ASTROFF. [Shrugging his shoulders] I don't know. I don't think I should do anything. I should make her understand that I could not return her love--however, my mind is not bothered about those things now. I must start at once if I am ever to get off. Good-bye, my dear girl. At this rate we shall stand here talking till morning. [He shakes hands with her] I shall go out through the sitting-room, because I am afraid your uncle might detain me. [He goes out.]. . .

. . .[Sonia lays her head on HELENA'S breast.]

HELENA. [Stroking her hair] There, there, that will do. Don't, Sonia.

SONIA. I am ugly!

HELENA. You have lovely hair.

SONIA. Don't say that! [She turns to look at herself in the glass] No, when a woman is ugly they always say she has beautiful hair or eyes. . ."

I love the detail [He shakes hands with her].


probably my favorite passage from "Murder Must Advertise" (Chapter X)

"`. . .I see,' said Mr. Smayle. `Well, of course, Mr. Hankin doesn't have to try and prove that he's better than me, because he is and we both know it.'

`Better isn't the right word, Smayle.'

`Well, better educated. You know what I mean.'

`Don't worry about it,' said Ingleby. `If I were half as good at my job as you are at yours, I should feel superior to everybody in this tom-fool office.'

Mr. Smayle shook his head, but appeared comforted.

`I do wish they wouldn't start that kind of thing', said Ingleby when he had gone, `I don't know what to say to them.'

`I thought you were a Socialist, Ingleby,' said Bredon, `it oughtn't to embarass you.'

`So I am a Socialist,' said Ingleby, `but I can't stand this stuff about Old Dumbletonians. If everybody has the same State education, these things wouldn't happen.'

`If everybody had the same face,' said Bredon, `there'd be no pretty women.'

Miss Meteyard made a grimace.

`If you go on like that, I shall be getting an inferiority complex too.'

Bredon looked at her gravely.

`I don't think you'd care to be called pretty,' he said, `but if I were a painter I should like to make a portrait of you. You have very interesting bones.'

`Good God!' said Miss Meteyard. `I'm going. Let me know when you've finished with my room.'

There was a mirror in the typists' room, and in this Miss Meteyard curiously studied her face.

`What's the matter, Miss Meteyard?' asked Miss Rossiter. `Got a spot coming?'

`Something of the sort,' said Miss Meteyard, absently. `Interesting bones indeed!'"

Deep Thoughts:

This is really good. Do you have any ketchup?

"Dharma [ethics] can not come very naturally. . .there must be a lot of room for you to grow, a lot of room to express yourself with your choices. Dharma can not come to you by accident, it must be purely deliberate. . .By one’s own initiative, one must discover the value of dharma and place it first."

Swami Dayananda



Tuesday, August 11, 2009
I think this quote, from the F. Scott Fitzgerald essay "Ring", speaks to something in every sports fan. It was the quote Bill Bradley chose to open his basketball memoir, "Life On The Run."

"During those years, when most men of promise achieve an adult education, if only in the school of war, Ring moved in the company of a few dozen men playing a boy's game. A boy's game, with no more possibility in it than a boy could master, a game bounded by walls which kept out novelty or danger, change or adventure.

It was never that he was completely sold on athletic virtuosity as the be all and end all of problems. The trouble was that he could conceive of nothing finer. Imagine life conceived as a business of beautiful muscular coordination - an arising, an effort, a good break, a sweat, a bath, a meal, a love, a sleep - imagine it achieved; then imagine trying to apply this standard to the horribly complicated mess of living, where nothing, even the greatest conceptions and workings and achievements, is else but messy, spotty, tortuous - and then one can imagine the confusion that Ring faced on coming out of the park."

Dorothy Sayers wrote an essay "Problem Picture", somewhat related to this, about the tendency to look at life in terms of "problem" and "solution":


"There are four characteristics of the mathematical or detective problem which are absent from the life-problem; but because we are accustomed to find them in the one, we look for them in the other, and experience a sense of frustration and resentment when we do not find them. . .

. . .4. The detective problem is finite; when it is solved, there is an end of it- or, as George Joseph Smith casually observed concerning the brides he had drowned in their baths, "When they are dead, they are done with". The detective problem summons us to the energetic exercise of our wits precisely in order that, when we have read the last page, we may sit back in our chairs and cease thinking. So does the cross-word. So does the chess-problem. So does the problem about A, B, and C building a wall. The struggle is over and finished with and now we may legitimately, if we like, cease upon the midnight with no pain. The problem leaves us feeling like that because it is deliberately designed to do so. Because we can, in this world, achieve so little, and so little perfectly, we are prepared to pay good money in order to acquire a vicarious sensation of achievement. The detective novelist knows this, and so do the setters of puzzles. And the schoolboy, triumphantly scoring a line beneath his finished homework, is thankful that he need not, in the manner so disquietingly outlined by Professor Leacock, inquire into the subsequent history of A, B, and C. . ."

Another Sayers essay I've been thinking of, "Strong Meat":


". . .There is a popular school of thought (or, more strictly, of feeling) which violently resents the operation of Time upon the human spirit. It looks upon age as something between a crime and an insult. Its prophets have banished from their savage vocabulary all such words as "adult," "mature," "experienced," "venerable"; they know only snarling and sneering epithets, like "middle-aged," "elderly," "stuffy," "senile" and "decrepit." With these they flagellate that which they themselves are, or must shortly become, as though abuse were an incantation to exorcise the inexorable. Theirs is neither the thoughtless courage that "makes mouths at the invisible event," nor the reasoned courage that foresees the event and endures it; still less is it the ecstatic courage that embraces and subdues the event. It is the vicious and desperate fury of a trapped beast; and it is not a pretty sight.

Such men, finding no value for the world as it is, proclaim very loudly their faith in the future, "which is in the hands of the young." With this flattery, they bind their own burden on the shoulders of the next generation. For their own failures, Time alone is to blame—not Sin, which is expiable, but Time, which is irreparable. From the relentless reality of age they seek escape into a fantasy of youth—their own or other people's. First love, boyhood ideals, childish dreams, the song at the mother's breast, the blind security of the womb—from these they construct a monstrous fabric of pretence, to be their hiding-place from the tempest. Their faith is not really in the future, but in the past. Paradoxical as it may seem, to believe in youth is to look backward; to look forward, we must believe in age. "Except," said Christ, "ye become as little children"—and the words are sometimes quoted to justify the flight into infantilism. Now, children differ in many ways, but they have one thing in common. Peter Pan—if indeed he exists otherwise than in the nostalgic imagination of an adult—is a case for the pathologist. All normal children (however much we discourage them) look forward to growing up. "Except ye become as little children," except you can wake on your fiftieth birthday with the same forward-looking excitement and interest in life that you enjoyed when you were five, "ye cannot see the Kingdom of God." One must not only die daily, but every day one must be born again. . ."

Friday, August 07, 2009
thoughts on the Pittsburgh gym murders of Heidi Overmier, Jody Billingsley and Elizabeth Gannon.

1. Some people can seem born to sweet delight, others to endless night, and it can often be quite sad and pitiable.

2. What is the appropriate emotional response when someone who lives in endless night, either because of objective circumstances, or because they live in a self-imposed prison they refuse to leave, lashes out and tries to take other people down with him/her?

Not sure, but Dorothy Sayers' thoughts on envy seem worth considering:

"Hand in hand with covetousness goes its close companion -- invidia or envy -- which hates to see other men happy. . .It begins by asking, plausibly, "Why should not I enjoy what others enjoy?" and it ends by demanding, "Why should others enjoy what I may not?". . .[envy] is a destroyer; rather than have anybody happier than itself, it will see us all miserable together.

In love, envy is cruel, jealous and possessive. My friend and my marriage partner must be wholly wrapped up in me and must find no interests outside me. That is my right. No person, no work, no hobby must robe me of any part of that right. If we cannot be happy together, we will be unhappy together, but there must be no escape into pleasures that I cannot share. If my husband's work means more to him than I do, I will see him ruined rather than preoccupied; if my wife is so abandoned as to enjoy Beethoven or dancing or anything else that I do not appreciate, I will so nag and insult her that she will no longer be able to indulge those tastes with a mind at ease. If my neighbors are able to take pleasure in intellectual interests that are above my head I will sneer at them and call them by derisive names because they make me feel inferior, and that is a thing I cannot bear. . .Let justice be done to me, though the heavens fall and the earth be shot to pieces.

If avarice is the sin of the haves against the have-nots, envy is the sin of the have-nots against the haves. If we want to see what they look like on a big scale, we may say that avarice has been the sin of the Anglo-Saxon democracies, and envy the sin of Germany. Both are cruel -- the one with a heavy, complacent, and bloodless cruelty; the other with a violent, calculated, and savage cruelty. But Germany only displays in accentuated form an evil of which we have plenty at home.

The difficulty about dealing with envy is precisely that it is the sin of the have-nots, and that, on that account, it can always find support among those who are just and generous minded. . .

. . .The sixth deadly sin is named by the Church acedia or sloth. In the world it calls itself tolerance; but in hell it is called despair. It is the accomplice of the other sins and their worst punishment. It is the sin that believes in nothing, cares for nothing, seeks to know nothing, interferes with nothing, enjoys nothing, loves nothing, and remains alive only because there is nothing it would die for. We have known it far too well for many years. The only thing perhaps that we have not known about it is that it is a mortal sin. . .

. . .sloth is in a conspiracy with envy to prevent people from thinking. Sloth persuades us that stupidity is not our sin, but our misfortune; while envy, at the same time, persuades us that intelligence is despicable. . ."


also a passage from CS Lewis (The Magician's Nephew):

"That is what happens to those who pluck and eat fruits at the wrong time and in the wrong way. The fruit is good, but they loathe it ever after. . .If any Narnian, unbidden, had stolen an apple and planted it here to protect Narnia, it would have protected Narnia. But it would have done so by making Narnia into another strong and cruel empire like Charn, and not the kindly land I mean it to be."

Also two pieces from Swami Dayananda:

Good and Evil


The Need For a Cognitive Change



Thursday, August 06, 2009
Gary's interesting post on population densities and feelings about immigration triggered this comment from me:


". . .For my part, I find the world seems impossibly large, complex and interesting when on foot. When in car, it can all seem rather monotonous, and even a small number of cars leads to parking jams that turn your thoughts toward OverPopulation and being Lord of the Lebensraum."

In other words, perceptions about being crowded are in part because 1-car-per-person, while it can be efficient in terms of time and energy, is inefficient in terms of space.

My semi-curmudgeonly feeling is that, just as it has become fashionable to talk of "developing a healthy fear of obesity", at least a small minority of people will develop a healthy suspicion of the automobile & electricity. Not, of course, to stop using them entirely; but to develop an appreciation for living substantial patches of life on foot and unplugged. As long as that sentiment does not turn fanatical, I think it's a good thing.

Deep Thoughts:

". . .in exploring the physical universe man has made no attempt to explore himself. . .If he recognised this he could use the products of science and industrialism eclectically, applying always the same test: does this make me more human or less human?. . . For man only stays human by preserving large patches of simplicity in his life. . .

Orwell, "Pleasure Spots"


". . .The time was not one of hurry or bustle. But bustle has very little to do with business. Men did their work without it; and they got through a deal both of work and of talk. . ."

Tolkien, "Farmer Giles of Ham"

". . .There is something which unites magic and applied science while separating both from the wisdom of earlier ages. For the wise men of old the cardinal problem had been how to conform the soul to reality, and the solution had been knowledge, self-discipline, and virtue. For magic and applied science alike the problem is how to subdue reality to the wishes of men: the solution is a technique. . ."

CS Lewis, "The Abolition of Man"


"Mr Bredon had been a week with Pym's Publicity, and had learnt a number of things. . .the most convincing copy was always written with the tongue firmly in the cheek, a genuine conviction of the commodity's worth producing - for some reason - poverty and flatness of style;

. . .Mr Copley, an elderly, serious-minded man, who had entered the advertising profession before the modern craze set in for public-school-and-University-trained copy-writers, was remarkable for a tendency to dyspepsia and a perfectly miraculous knack of writing appetizing copy for tinned and packeted foodstuffs. Anything that came out of a tin or a packet was poison to him, and his diet consisted of undercooked beef-steak, fruit and whole-meal bread. The only copy he really enjoyed writing was that for Bunbury's Whole-Meal Flour, and he was perennially depressed when his careful eulogiums, packed with useful medical detail, were scrapped in favor of some light-headed foolishness of Ingleby's, on the story that Bunbury's Whole-Meal Flour took the Ache out of Baking. But on Sardines and Tinned Salmon he was unapproachable.

Ingleby specialized in snobbish copy about Twentyman's Teas ("preferred by Fashion's Favourites"), Whifflets ("in the Royal Enclosure at Ascot, in the Royal Yacht Club at Cowes, you find the discriminating men who smoke Whifflets") and Farley's Footwear ("Whether it's a big shoot or a Hunt Ball, Farley puts you on sound footing"). He lived in Bloomsbury, was communistic in a literary way, and dressed almost exclusively in pull-overs and grey flannels. . .

Miss Meteyard, with a somewhat similar mental makeup, could write about practically anything except women's goods, which were more competently dealt with by Mr. Willis or Mr. Garrett, the former of whom in particular, could handle corsets and face-cream with a peculiar plaintive charm which made him more than worth his salary. . ."

Dorothy Sayers, "Murder Must Advertise" (1933)

"Oh, it is difficult - Man is an animal very delicately balanced. . .He must, perhaps, retain some of the old savagery, but he must not - no definitely he must not - deify it! . . .I believe at least in one of the chief tenets of the Christian faith - contentment with a lowly place. . ."

Agatha Christie, Appointment with Death (1938)


"Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it."


Wiki says, about this quote "No contemporaneous citations. Widespread attribution to Gandhi begins in post-1990 inspirational books.", but my dim impression is that it comes from a letter Gandhiji had written to someone.

Sunday, August 02, 2009
How many lives will access to quality affordable health care for all Americans save? How many lives will it improve?

In 2004, the IOM (Institute of Medicine of the National Academies) released a report asserting that "lack of health insurance causes roughly 18,000 unnecessary deaths every year in the United States". I gather some people think that estimate was too high, but what is the right estimate?


We've heard alot about scoring in terms of money, but what about scoring in terms of lives, lives saved and lives improved? How many lives will the current health care bills being debated save? How many will they improve?

Creamy Olde England

So 6 months ago I sent for a UK book "Tom Cartwright - The Flame Still Burns", because I had read the Cricinfo piece "The D'Oliveira Affair", and was intrigued by Cartwright's role. (Basically, he pulled out of the tour, partly because of a shoulder injury, partly because of moral qualms, leading to a cricket boycott of South Africa which lasted till the end of apartheid.)


Anyway after months of dipping into the book, reading a few pages at a a time, I've grown really fond of it. Tom Cartwright seems to me a player & coach well worth knowing about, so I want to post some of my favorite excerpts from the book. Here is the first, Tom Cartwright on his formative years and the importance of rhythm (p. 44):

"May 1953. . .It was a time of hope. There was full-employment, little inflation, a new National Health Service and a wide-scale programme of house-building. The war had been won, rationing was nearing its end and people were mostly happy to have returned to lives of routine.

"There was much more of a rhythm of life then. A rhythm of going to work and coming home at the same time each day, a rhythm of learning a trade and progressing with it, a rhythm even in people's leisure pursuits, and it gave people good manners and a consideration for others. People had settled lives. They did things which were within their reach - going out into the country, doing the garden, spending a day at cricket. Now people are striving for things they can't attain, the structures break down and the natural rhythm is lost."

The post-war surge in attendance at county cricket matches was dying away, but the game retained its familiar patterns and Tom could grow and develop within a structure that had a reassuring feeling of permanence.

County cricket. A four-month round of two three-day matches a week. A championship that captured the public imagination. The averages every week in the papers. And the cream at the top rising to the England team, an England team that would go more than seven years without losing a Test series.

"There was a rhythm of introducing young cricketers into the game, a rhythm that was constant. You joined a county club, you went about learning your job and in time, when somebody was injured or went off to play for England, you got your chance. By playing six days a week you got into form and, if you did well, there was an inevitability that your performances would be noted by writers and selectors. The fixture list wasn't disjointed, the counties didn't look for an overseas player whenever there was a vacancy, the selectors didn't make their minds up in April who was going to be in the England squad and who wasn't. The whole thing had a rhythm, an unbroken rhythm, and it provided a depth of quality, an intensity of competition between bat and ball in the county game"

Deep in the heart of Wales Tom works hard to help the young cricketers of today to progress in the game: to learn its manners, to develop its skills, to experience its pleasures. But he is not sure that the structures around him make that progress as easy as it was for him in the 1950's. "I'm a great believer in rhythm. When things are good, you get a good rhythm."

Tom Cartwright's Cricinfo page:


The book's website, with another extract on Cartwright coaching Ian Botham


Deep Thought:

I hadn't realized until fairly recently that "Gimme Hope Jo'anna" was a song protesting apartheid and the Jo'burg power elite, and not a song about scoring with Joanna.