Saturday, May 1, 2010

Joseph Heller would be 87 today......

While he was not a one-hit wonder, Joseph Heller is best
known for his classic World War II novel, Catch 22. It was
almost required reading on college campuses back in the
very early 1970's. Protest over Vietnam was at its peak. The
mood and subject line of the book seemed to mesh with the

It always felt like it was three books in one. The first third
was some of the all time great comedic writing as he
sketched his characters. Made me laugh out loud. The
middle third made it clear that this was not comedy, but
satire, and Heller made serious business of it. The final
third felt dark and bitter. Even Milo Minderbender and
ex-PFC Wintergreen lost their allure. Sad really.

Anyway, to celebrate Heller's birthday, here are a few
short excerpts:

"I'm nuts. Cuckoo. Don't you understand? I'm off my rocker.
They sent someone else home in my place by mistake.
They've got a licensed psychiatrist up at the hospital who
examined me, and that was his verdict. I'm really insane."
"So?" Yossarian was puzzled by Doc Daneeka's inability to
comprehend. "Don't you see what that means? Now you can
take me off combat duty and send me home. They're not
going to send a crazy man out to be killed, are they?"
"Who else will go?"

'"You mean there's a catch?"
"Sure there's a catch," Doc Daneeka replied. "Catch-22.
Anyone who wants to get out of combat duty isn't really
'There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which
specified that a concern for one's own safety in the face of
dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a
rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he
had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer
be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be
crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he was
sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and
didn't have to; but if he didn't want to he was sane and had
to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute
simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful
whistle."That's some catch, that catch-22," he observed.
"It's the best there is," Doc Daneeka agreed." '

"Clevinger was a troublemaker and a wise guy. Lieutenant
Scheisskopf knew that Clevinger might cause even more
trouble if he wasn't watched. Yesterday it was the cadet
officers; tomorrow it might be the world. Clevinger had a
mind, and Lieutenant Scheisskopf had noticed that people
with minds tended to get pretty smart at times. Such men
were dangerous, and even the new cadet officers whom
Clevinger had helped into office were eager to give damning
testimony against him. The case against Clevinger was open
and shut. The only thing missing was something to charge
him with."

Yossarian: 'Those bastards are trying to kill me. '
1st Lt. Milo Minderbinder: 'No one is trying to kill you
sweetheart. Now eat your dessert like a good boy.'
Yossarian: 'Oh yeah? Then why are they shooting at me
Dobbs: 'They're shooting at everyone Yossarian'.
Yossarian: 'And what difference does that make?'
Dobbs: 'Look Yossarian, suppose, I mean just suppose
everyone thought the same way you do.'
Yossarian: 'Then I'd be a damn fool to think any different.'

A daily bit of Emerson.....

"Insist on yourself; never imitate. Your own gift you can
present every moment with the cumulative force of a whole
life's cultivation; but of the adopted talent of another, you
have only the extemporaneous, half possession. That
which each can do best, none but his Maker can teach him."

-Essay Self-Reliance

Just for today....

"I will be agreeable. I will look as well as I can, dress
becomingly, keep my voice low, be courteous, criticize
not one bit. I won't find fault with anything, nor try
to improve or regulate anybody but myself."

Friday, April 30, 2010

The Great Disconnect.....

Alan Webber talks about the unhitching of responsibility
from freedom and of duty from liberty. Excerpt below,
whole post here.

"Too many of our business "leaders" want freedom and no
responsibility. Freedom to make as much money as possible.
Freedom to do business in a way that confers the greatest
rewards for them, the greatest power for their firm, the
greatest growth for their operation, the greatest reach for
their egos.

And they want liberty--liberty to do as they please. Liberty
to take liberties.

But responsibility and duty? They seem like ancient words
from another time, another place."


"The man who cannot think for himself, going beyond
what other men have learned or thought, is still enslaved
to other men's ideas. Obviously the goal of learning to
think is even more difficult than the goal of learning to
learn. But difficult as it is we must add it to our list. It is
simply not enough to be able to get up a subject of one's
own, like a good encyclopedia employee, even though any
college would take pride if all its graduates could do so.
To be fully human means in part to think one's own
thoughts, to reach a point at which, whether one's ideas
are different from or similar to other men's, they are
one's own."

-Wayne C. Booth

thanks Derrick.

A daily bit of Emerson.....

"As to methods there may be a million and then some, but
principles are few. The man who grasps principles can
successfully select his own methods. The man who tries
methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble."

Just for today......

"I will exercise my soul in three ways: I will do somebody
a good turn, and not get found out; if anybody knows of it,
it will not count. I will do at least two things I don't want
to do- just for exercise. I will not show anyone that my
feelings are hurt; they may be hurt, but today I will not
show it."

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The opposite of self-actualization is..........

Thanks G.L.

H. L. Mencken wrote this in 1925..........

".....a deep sense of fundamental antagonism between the
government and the people it governs. It is apprehended,
not as a committee of citizens chosen to carry on the
communal business of the whole population, but as a separate
and autonomous corporation, mainly devoted to exploiting
the population for the benefit of its own members."

"The intelligent man, when he pays taxes, certainly does not
believe that he is making a prudent and productive investment
of his money; on the contrary, he feels that he is being mulcted
in an excessive amount for services that, in the main are
useless to him, and that, in substantial part, are downright
inimical to him. He may be convinced that a police force, say,
is necessary for the protection of his life and property, and that
an army and navy safeguard him from being reduced to slavery
by some vague foreign kaiser, but even so he views these things
as extravagantly expensive- he sees in even the most essential
of them an agency for making it easier for the exploiters
constituting the government to rob him. In those exploiters
themselves he has no confidence whatever. He sees them as
purely predatory and useless; he believes that he gets no more
net benefit from their vast and costly operations the he gets
from the money he lends to his wife's brother...."

I wonder what he would think eighty-five years later.

Mencken (1880-1956) was a prolific writer, with a libertarian
bent and a caustic wit. I first learned about him in high school,
reading Inherit the Wind. The cynical reporter, E. K. Hornbeck,
covering the trial was based on Mencken, who in fact did cover
the Scopes "Monkey" trial.

My daughter says that her school won't let her use Wikipedia,
apparently because of accuracy issues. However, accurate or
not, they do have some great stuff there, like this excerpt
from their post on Mencken:

"Mencken heaped scorn not only on the public officials he
disliked, but also on the contemporary state of American
democracy itself: in 1931, the Arkansas legislature passed a
motion to pray for Mencken's soul after he had called the state
the "apex of moronia."[

A daily bit of Emerson....

" There are many things of which a wise man might wish
to be ignorant."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson


"Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to
draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of
initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth, the
ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans:
that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then
providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one
that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream
of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all
manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material
assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have
come his way. Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin
it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now."

-W. H. Murray

Thanks Derrick

Just for today....

"I will try to strengthen my mind. I will study. I will
learn something useful. I will not be a mental loafer.
I will read something that requires effort, thought,
and concentration."

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Never too old to learn.................

A friend takes me along to this class he has been attending.
This day's speaker, Jack Kaine, is dedicated to making
negotiations more fruitful. That is an important outcome,
because, as Jack says, "anytime two or more people are
exchanging information with the intent of changing the
relationship they are involved in, they are involved in a

Below are a few of the things he said in the first five
minutes of his presentation that made me say, "whoa- I
need to be taking notes."

"There is always a better deal for all parties, if we work
for it, than is apparent at the start.......slow down, don't
be in such a hurry."

"Win/Win equals mutual gain, not equal gain."

"Enlarge the pie, don't just divide it. Add elements to
the negotiation."

"Make every negotiation personal in a positive way."

"Control a negotiation by asking questions, not talking.
First educate, then negotiate."

If every seminar was a 'fruitful' as this one, I'd be going
to more seminars.

One of my favorite possessions...... my library card.

I was reminded why last week.

After following a link about eudaimonia on Kurt's blog, I
somehow ended up thinking I needed to read some Derrick
Jensen. It is amazing how this connectedness thing works.

I am currently in deficit spending with Amazon, so I thought
I'd check the library first. The Newark Public Library did
not have Walking on Water, but according to their computer,
the Coshocton library did. Not only that, but the computer
let me request the book from the Coshocton library. I did
and three days later someone thoughtfully brought the book
the 41 miles from Coshocton to Newark so I could borrow it.

Asking how this all happened, they told me about SEO
(Serving Every Ohioan), a consortium of libraries around the
State that share resources, like Walking on Water.

Sharing resources and making books readily accessible- a
great concept well executed.

Thanks Library System.


"He'd shared stages with everyone from Carlos Santana
to Randy California to Jimi Hendrix to Jimmy Page. But
the guitarist who'd taught him the most, he said, was an
old blues master he'd met when he was a kid. He'd
asked the man to teach him how to play, and the man
had responded, 'I can teach you everything I know in
fifteen minutes, then you just have to go home and
practice for fifteen years'.

It's pretty clear to me the same is true for writing, for
high jumping, and for life."

-Derrick Jensen, Walking on Water

Just for today.....

"I will adjust myself to what is, and not try to adjust
everything to my own desires. I will take my 'luck'
as it comes, and fit myself to it."

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

My Dad, of the greatest......

Growing up, my Dad would never talk about his WWII
experiences. I knew he was overseas fighting the
Germans for almost three years and that he was awarded
some medal, but that was about it. The War was a
conversation stopper.

Over time I filled in some of the blanks. North Africa
(Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia), Sicily, England, France
(D-Day +3), Belgium, and Germany. The medal was a
Silver Star, "I just did something that other guys would
have done-and did. I just got a medal for it."

In 1994 my parents went to France to be a part of the
50th anniversary of the D-Day invasion. When he came
back he said, "I have a bunch of letters I wrote during
the war. Would you like to read them?"

More than a hundred letters later, I knew my father

This is an excerpt from my favorite. Dated December 13,
1944 (three days before the Battle of the Bulge started),
it is written to my Aunt Kit in response to a letter she wrote,
telling Dad she was pregnant again and that she was
concerned about the world she was bringing a new life into:

"....No one can ever realize just how precious and pleasant
and hopeful life can be until it is almost snatched away. I
have had one or two close calls that left me so scared I
didn't realize how lucky I was. Then I knew so deep within
my heart that it almost hurt, that even in the midst of the
most terrible war man has ever known, just to live and be
with people is worth all the hurts and agony man inflicts
on man.

No, Kit, a little child brought into the world at such a time
as this is probably more fortunate than ever.

I seldom thought about this before I went into combat
but one begins to get a far different slant on all that life
means. If you could see what these fellows go through
for each other, how much each one depends on is buddy
simply for his life, then you could know and appreciate
all this talk of mine. Very few GIs are sentimental enough
to talk about things like this and yet the American boy
overseas is the most sentimental guy in the world.

Somehow out of all this madness and blindness the people
of the world will find the true way of life as Christ taught
so long ago. No matter how it may seem to us at the
moment there are the ever encircling arm of God to lead
us through the blindness into the light......"

Truth.............from Hugh Macleod

I have improved my days by adding my name to Hugh's
mailing list. A number of his drawings have been posted
previously. Today, I added his comments that came with
this drawing. Enjoy him yourself, both below and here.

"One thing I am grateful to my parents for, is that they
instilled a certain entrepreneurial optimism in me to
believe that yes, everything is possible, yet tempered
by the belief that nothing worthwhile ever comes easy.

I have never bought a lottery ticket in my life. I doubt I
ever will.

I remember, just after finishing college, driving around
Houston with my father, running errands. I was starting to
line up interviews for my first "real job" out of university,
and it was stressing the hell out of me. The job I was
looking for i.e. an entry-level copywriting job at an
advertising agency, were (and still are) really, really hard to
get."Don't worry too much about it," said my father. "A job
that's easy to get, isn't worth having."Twenty-plus years
later, and I still have yet to see my father's piece of advice
proved wrong.

Thanks, Dad! Nice one."

More from Derrick Jensen...............

"One of the great failings of our culture is the nearly
universal belief that there can be anything universal."

"...I also sometimes liken writing to fishing. I can't take
out a club, start beating the water, and expect to catch
many fish. So I can't be too aggressive, try to force the
writing. But neither will I catch fish if I don't have my
line in the water. So I can't be too passive. I always
need to be attending to the work. When I got stuck
yesterday and did other things, I kept returning in my
mind to the place where I was stuck to see if there was
any movement, any sign of what I should do next.
All this is true, I believe not just of writing, but of many

"We are told that standardized testing must be imposed
to make sure students meet a set of standardized criteria
so they will later be able to fit into a world that is itself
increasingly standardized. Never are we asked, of course,
whether it's a good thing to standardize children (sorry,
I mean students), knowledge, or the larger world."

"We live in a culture that is based on the illusion- and
schooling is central to the creation and perpetuation of
this illusion- that happiness lies outside of us, and
specifically in the hands of those who have power."

Just for today.......

"I will be happy. This assumes to be true what Abraham
Lincoln said, that 'most folks are as happy as they make
up their minds to be'."

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Ant Nebula.....

I can't tell which is more fun; looking at the pictures
or watching them try to figure out what we are looking
at. here


"'So, it's wonderfully acceptable,' I say, 'to disagree
with me. It's wonderfully acceptable to disagree with
anyone. Just be agreeable, at all times respectful, in
the way you disagree. Be full of thought, and thoughtful
in your disagreement'."

-Derrick Jensen, Walking on Water

Happy 225th birthday John James Audubon.....

Perhaps America's first naturalist, John James
Audubon (1785-1851) was an orinthologist, natural
historian, and painter of the first rank.

While born in Haiti of French parents, Audubon spent
much of his life in Montgomery County, outside of
Philadelphia. Me too (not the Haiti and French parents

I was probably ten (and maybe a bit too young for it)
when my parents first dragged my sister and me to the
Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary in Audubon, Pa.

435 life sized paintings of the birds of North America
is a lot of paintings. I appreciate them more now.

Enjoy the few below.

Monday's Poem


I do not think that skies and meadows are
Moral, or that the fixture of a star
Comes of a quiet spirit, or that trees
Have wisdom in their windless silences.
Yet these are things invested in my mood
With constancy, and peace, and fortitude;
That in my troubled season I can cry
Upon the wide composure of the sky,
And envy fields, and wish that I might be
As little daunted as a star or tree.

-John Drinkwater

Just for today........

"I will try to live through this day only, and not tackle
all my problems at once. I can do something for twelve
hours that would appall me if I felt that I had to keep
it up for a lifetime."

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Rotary Shred It Day...............

In a joint project, the Rotary Clubs of Newark, Granville,
and Newark/Heath sponsored a shredding event on

Eric Sloan, of Sharp-Shred LLC, volunteered his mobile
shredder and his time to make this shred-in happen.

Over three tons of old checks, bank statements, files,
records, bills, and other assorted paper got shredded.

There was no cost to the shreddee, although donations
were requested. All the money raised will be forwarded
to Rotary International as a contribution to Polio Plus,
Rotary's long time project to help eradicate the disease
of Polio.

The weather mostly cooperated. It was a fun day, with
a valuable service rendered and money raised for one of
the most worthwhile of causes.

you could even watch
your paper being

I'd probably feel better about this if........

....the ones who broke it, were not the ones trying to fix it.

National Real Estate Investor
magazine discusses Fannie Mae and
Freddie Mac, the two government-
sponsored entities that have pumped
most of the equity into the mortgage
markets in recent history. Because
of some 'miscalculations' on their
part, the Federal Government has had
to invest more that $125,000,000,000

to cover their losses and to keep Fannie and Freddie solvent.
Wonder where that money comes from?

The gist of the article is that NREI believes we are poised
for some serious growth in the multi-family apartment
business. As Fannie, Freddie and friends hold 40% of the
outstanding mortgages on multi-family developments,
and would be expected to keep providing funding at that
level, their health and well being are critically important.

Read the entire article here.

I did learn something new: "the largest generation of
children under the age of twenty will be entering the
housing market in the next few years, according to the
U.S. Census........'we have a huge group of echo-boomers
coming through'....."

'Echo boomers'. Wow.

A verse for Sunday

From the Tao
"With the greatest leader above them,
people barely know one exists.
Next comes one whom they love and praise.
Next comes one they fear.
Next comes one whom they despise and defy.
When a leader trusts no one,
no one trusts him.
The great leader speaks little.
He never speaks carelessly.
He works without self-interest
and leaves no trace.
When all is finished, the people say,
'We did it ourselves'."

-Tao Te Ching: Verse 17