My mother turned 94 on Thursday, and I am just back from visiting her and other family in South Texas for a few days. New fact I learned: My great-grandfather, who is buried in Nursery, Texas, fought for the 30th Kentucky Infantry during the Civil War. My brother Joe, who has done some research on all this, says that Crisps were fairly well represented on both sides of the war. So I come by my moderate extremism naturally.
I took the occasion of the trip to spend some birthday money on two books: "The Wal-Mart Effect" by Charles Fishman and "Fiasco" by Thomas Ricks. "Fiasco," an account of how things got so screwed up in Iraq, kept me occupied yesterday through 10 hours of airport layovers. Powerful stuff, about which more later.