I've meant to comment on a number of pending issues, but instead I've had a lot of computer problems. My computer contracted some sort of bug that made the CPU run very slowly and wasn't picked up by any spyware/malware programs, so I ended up having to do a system recovery. Now I can't access my old documents through some sort of Windows quirk--they're sitting there, but I can't get into the directory!
While dealing with that, I've been able to catch up on some reading. I read large parts of Philip Short's Mao: A Life the other night, a book which I started a few months ago, and I've been reading parts of Chernow's Alexander Hamilton as well. Both appear to be excellent biographies of memorable figures in world history. Short describes Mao as a master politican during the years of the PRC, extremely sensitive to criticism, especially as he got older, but also extremely concerned with his legacy--a legacy which he ended up failing to protect (to the benefit of the Chinese). Hamilton, a remarkable figure, emerged from an impoverished background on the island of Nevis, and took advantage of the unique times he was in to be one of the most profound shapers of the United States and our current system. I'm looking forward now to completing both books in order. I also finished Doris Kearns Goodwin's Team of Rivals a couple of weeks ago; I will post some sort of review as soon as I catch up with life, and Windows XP.