Saturday, December 7, 2013

Walking..................................

Michael Buble............................Winter Wonderland

Opening paragraphs.......................

Apart from life, a strong constitution, and an abiding connection to the Thembu royal house, the only thing my father bestowed on me at birth was a name, Rolihlahla.  In Xhosa, Rolihlahla literally means "pulling the branch of a tree," but its colloquial meaning more accurately would be "troublemaker."  I do not believe that names are destiny or that my father somehow divined my future, but in later years, friends and relatives would ascribe to my birth name the many storms I have both caused and weathered.  My more familiar English or Christian name was not given to me until my first day of school.  But I am getting ahead of myself.
-Nelson Mandela,  Long Walk To Freedom:  The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela

Mandela................................

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela     1918-2013

















“For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” 

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” 

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

“I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one's head pointed toward the sun, one's feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death.” 

“Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.” 

“As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn't leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I'd still be in prison.” 

"After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.”

On embracing fear......................

A blog post from Tom Asacker, copied in full:

What's the opposite of fear?
It's not a simple question.
The first word that comes to mind is courage.
But courage is not the absence of fear, like darkness is the absence of light.
Rather, courage is the spirit that moves people forward in the face of fear.
It's a beam of light that pierces the darkness.
The voice of fear is still present.
But it is overwhelmed by the adrenaline of action.
I think the opposite of fear is ignorance.
We're genetically programmed to fear.
As infants, we fear being left alone.
We fear scowling faces and growling dogs.
But as we grow (and feeling more secure), we approach the world as fearless experimenters.
Blissfully ignorant to the threats that come with living a curious, passionate life.
Over time, through bumps and bruises and well-intentioned counsel, we learn.
We adapt.
Fear is important when it causes us to adapt our behaviors in a beneficial manner.
Fear of injury makes us prepare more diligently and intelligently for combat and sport.
Fear of social reproach makes us work to perfect a speech or stage performance.
Fear of contracting an infectious disease causes us to take necessary precautions.
Fear is trying to protect us.
Fear is our friend.
Fear is a critical component of an aware, developed mind.
The great tenor Luciano Pavarotti said, "Am I afraid of high notes? Of course I am afraid. What sane man is not?"
Here's the rub: Fear has no perspective.
Fear can't differentiate between missing a high note and missing a heartbeat.
Between losing one's income and losing one's life.
Fear doesn't care about others.
Fear isn't concerned with right or wrong, good or bad.
Fear could care less whether we live an exciting and meaningful life.
Some fears are reasonable, some are not.
In today's highly sanitized, civilized world, most are not.
Yes, be aware of fear.
Listen to fear.
Thank fear for its concern.
And then live life from a place of compassion and daring.
Transcend the voice in your head.
The one that wants you to stay safe and sound, to hold on tight to what you've got.
The result of letting fear run your show is called life.
To be bold and daring, to be driven by passion and meaning, that's called living.
Live!
And start today.
Because as Larry McMurtry made clear, "If you wait, all that happens is that you get older."

Fifty years ago...............................

Miriam Makeba speaks against apartheid at the UN

One-tenth.......................................














via swiss-miss

Those pesky rules.........................

Matt Yglesias looks at the Volcker Rule.  One could conclude that governing regulating is a messy business.    Full post here.  Wee excerpt here

 "A rule that bans all gambles will end up banning some hedges, and a rule that allows all hedges will end up allowing some gambles."

13 Things not to do..............................

A list of things "mentally strong" people just don't do.

thanks tina

Happy 19th..............................


Friday, December 6, 2013

A good night to sit by the fireplace.....

Boney James.............................Let It Snow

"A Newe Northen Dittye of ye Ladye Greene Sleves"

Liz Story........................................................Greensleeves


heading taken from here
thanks Kurt

Opening paragraphs...........Part the First

Princeton, New Jersey, February 25, 1967:  Despite the menacing weather and bitter cold that chilled the Northeast, six hundred friends and colleagues - Nobel laureates, politicians, generals, scientists, poets, novelists, composers and acquaintances from all walks of life - gathered to recall the live and mourn the death of J. Robert Oppenheimer.  Some knew him as their gentle teacher and affectionately called him "Oppie."  Others knew him as a great physicist, a man who in 1945 had become the "father" of the atomic bomb, a national hero and an emblem of the scientist as public servant.  And everyone remembered with deep bitterness now how, just nine years later, the new Republican administration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower had declared him a security risk - making Robert Oppenheimer the most prominent victim of America's anticommunist crusade.  And so they came with heavy hearts to remember a brilliant man whose remarkable life had been touched by triumph as well as tragedy.
-Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin, from the prologue to American Prometheus:  The Triumph and Tragedy of  J. Robert Oppenheimer

Opening paragraphs..............Part the Second

In the first decade of the twentieth century, science initiated a second American revolution.  A nation on horseback was soon transformed by the internal combustion engine, manned flight, and a multitude of other inventions.  These technological innovations quickly changed the lives of ordinary men and women.  But simultaneously an esoteric band of scientists was creating an even more fundamental revolution.  Theoretical physicists across the globe were beginning to alter the way we understand space and time.  Radioactivity was discovered in 1896, by the French physicist Henri Becquerel.  Max Planck, Marie Curie and Pierre Curie and others provided further insights into the nature of the atom.  And then, in 1905, Albert Einstein published his special theory of relativity.  Suddenly, the universe appeared to have changed.
-Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin,  American Prometheus:  The Triumph and Tragedy of  J. Robert Oppenheimer

On freedom and science..........................

"There must be no barriers to freedom of inquiry ... There is no place for dogma in science. The scientist is free, and must be free to ask any question, to doubt any assertion, to seek for any evidence, to correct any errors. Our political life is also predicated on openness. We know that the only way to avoid error is to detect it and that the only way to detect it is to be free to inquire. And we know that as long as men are free to ask what they must, free to say what they think, free to think what they will, freedom can never be lost, and science can never regress."
-J. Robert Oppenheimer

Winning the lottery...............................























I purchased this ticket last Sunday on my way home from dropping our daughter off at the University of Kentucky.  I was just sure it was a winner, and spent many pleasant moments fantasizing about what I would do with my new fortune.  Well, the best laid plans of mice and men........Turns out this was not to be the winning ticket. Reminiscing about my fantasizing this morning, I came to two conclusions.  First, fantasy, in its proper and minimal place, can be an enjoyable and harmless, yet somehow meaningful, exercise.  Second, I have already won the lottery.   How is that, you might ask.
     I was born in the greatest, freest, and most abundant nation that history has ever known, at its most free and abundant time.
     I was born to parents who loved and cared for me.  They lived worthy and vital lives, and stayed around long enough to watch me try to be as good at parenting as they were.
     I have a sister who has been my best friend.
     I received a fine public school education and was able to graduate from a respectable liberal arts college, without any debt.  I was blessed by five or six (which is enough) teachers whose joy in learning was contagious and whose whole goal was to teach me to think for my self.
     I was able to find work whenever I needed it from ages 16-25.  While none of those jobs were meant for the long haul, they each yielded valuable lessons and provided for my simple needs.
     I have been able to be self-employed since 1977.  Self-employment is an interesting gig.  We get to do work we find stimulating and productive.  We can pass on things we don't want to do.  The decisions and choices we make have consequences, and we get to enjoy them.  The rewards are great (although, truth be told, the seductive lure of a paycheck signed by someone else never seems to completely disappear).  Periodically, my boss will get lazy and disorganized.  But as wise men have said, "it's a process."  At least it has been my process.
     I have had a great business partner for the past 31 years.  We have complementary skills.  Each appreciates the other's abilities, we have boundless trust in each other, and we have learned to be very forgiving of each other's foibles.  Over the years, we have accomplished most of what we set out to do.
     I have experienced enough of life's travails to know that this world can be a dark and frightening place.  Yet I have also found people willing to share their strength and hope and transcendent example.  While I may have to visit with unpleasantness, I don't have to stay there.
     I have a handful of friends who, I know, if I needed rescuing, would come rescue me.
     I live in a community that has a strong and generous heart and a forward viewing orientation.
     I have known the love and affection of four of God's finest dogs.
     I am healthy.
     We have fabulous and interesting kids who seem well on their way to being launched into productive adulthood.
     I have a supportive wife who seems to know me and love me anyway.  Our relationship is growing and deepening with the passage of time.
     Tell me I haven't been blessed in life's lottery.

Fifty years ago.............................

Darlene Love.................Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home)

For those of you who might believe..................

...........that one person cannot make much of a difference in this crazy world of ours - read the stories of eleven people you never heard of who have made unbelievable differences.   A sample:













On September 26, 1983, Lt. Col. Stanislav Petrov was duty officer at Serpukhov-15, the secret bunker outside Moscow that monitored the Soviet Union’s early-warning satellite system. Shortly after midnight, one of the satellites signaled Moscow that the United States had launched five ballistic missiles at Russia. The responsibility fell to Petrov, then a 44-year-old lieutenant colonel, to make a decision: Was it for real? The alarm came during tense times. Just weeks prior, Soviet pilots had shot down Korean Air Lines Flight 007 and NATO military exercise, known as Able Archer were about to begin.
Despite the electronic evidence, Petrov decided – and advised the others – that the satellite alert was a false alarm, a call that may have averted a nuclear holocaust. But he was relentlessly interrogated afterward, was never rewarded for his decision and today is a long-forgotten pensioner living in a town outside Moscow. [Source]
Vasili Alexandrovich Arkhipov (30 Jan. 1926 – 19 Aug. 1998) was a Soviet Navy officer. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, he prevented the launch of a nuclear torpedo and likely prevented a nuclear war. Thomas Blanton (then director of the National Security Archive) said in 2002 that “a guy called Vasili Arkhipov saved the world”. [Source]
On 27 October 1962, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, a group of eleven United States Navy destroyers and the aircraft carrier USS Randolph located the diesel-powered nuclear-armed Soviet Foxtrot-class submarine B-59 near Cuba. Despite being in international waters, the Americans started dropping practice depth charges, explosives intended to force the submarine to come to the surface for identification. There had been no contact from Moscow for a number of days and the sub was too deep to monitor any radio traffic, so those on board did not know whether war had broken out. The captain of the submarine, Valentin Grigorievitch Savitsky, believing that a war might already have started, wanted to launch a nuclear torpedo.
Three officers on board the submarine – Savitsky, the political officer Ivan Semonovich Maslennikov, and the second-in-command Arkhipov – were authorized to launch the torpedo if agreeing unanimously in favor of doing so. An argument broke out among the three, in which only Arkhipov was against the launch. Arkhipov eventually persuaded Savitsky to surface the submarine. [Source]

Channeling Francis Bacon.....................


















via

Thanks Kurt...............................
















Honored to be included in such a fine group.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

A 1967 oddity.........(you've been warned)

The Beatles........................Christmas Time (Is Here Again)

Careful what you wish for......................























1966. "To the rescue. Many librarians believe computers are the only means to effectively cope with their bulging bookshelves." New York World-Telegram and Sun Newspaper Photograph Collection, Library of Congress. View full size.

The perils of perception...............

Life can be complex and confusing; especially when it turns out that words and feelings are not the same thing as actions and accomplishments.  Peggy Noonan offers this essay as Exhibit 1.  Conclusion here:

Commentators like to decry low-information voters—the stupid are picking our leaders. I think the real problem is low-information leaders. They have so little experience of life and have so much faith in magic—in media, in words—that they don’t understand people will get angry at you when you mislead them, and never see you the same way again.

Thought before action...............if there is time
















"Thus, though we have heard of stupid haste in war, cleverness has never been associated with long delays."
-Sun Tzu (as channeled by James Clavell), The Art of War

via

Fifty years ago.............................

Jim Reeves...................................An Old Christmas Card

0 for 31..............................

The staff at Slate picks their favorite books from 2013.   I'm familiar with zero of them.  Thinking I need to get out more.

What matters most.......................

“What a monument of human smallness is this idea of the philosopher king. What a contrast between it and the simplicity of humaneness of Socrates, who warned the statesmen against the danger of being dazzled by his own power, excellence, and wisdom, and who tried to teach him what matters most — that we are all frail human beings.” 
-Karl Popper

Opening paragraphs.................

In the spring of 2005 my doctor diagnosed me with a form of mental illness.  He didn't use those exact words, or anything like them, but he did refer me to the in-house psychologist at Kaiser, my health-care organization.  I can take a hint.
-Scott Adams, How To Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big:  Kind of the Story of My Life

Oh, my............................................


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Said the night wind...................................

Mannheim Steamroller..................Do You Hear What I Hear?

On "tinkering".............................

From Walter Russell Mead.................................

A certain kind of health care wonk sees out-of-control prices and wants to regulate the already heavily-regulated health care sector even more. But the answer to our health care crisis is not more and more federal tinkering in the system; it’s opening up the system to consumer pressure and price transparency,while at the same time innovating new cost-saving ways of delivering care to patients. If we do those two things, any subsequent reform—say, expanding access even more—will get easier. But if we fail on those, the complexity of our system, the structural defects bankrupting us, and the aging of the boomers will limit the successes any top-down reform could achieve.

Life its ownself............................

While out walking yesterday, this feisty (and perhaps lonely) December dandelion caught the eye:


Uncertainty................................

“Our aim as scientists is objective truth; more truth, more interesting truth, more intelligible truth. We cannot reasonably aim at certainty. Once we realize that human knowledge is fallible, we realize also that we can never be completely certain that we have not made a mistake.” 
-Karl Popper

Opening paragraphs......................

There is little doubt that the civilization of Islam is undergoing a monumental crisis.  In one form or another, this crisis has been going on for well over two hundred years.  It still has not worked itself out.  Islam as a religion, as a method of worship for millions of believers, is most certainly alive and well.  The vitality of the faith is palpable.  So is what most people, especially in the West, understand to be Islam nowadays; namely the political and violent manifestations of radical Islam.  These are ever present and have caused the rest of the world profound concern and anxiety.  When Islam is seen only in terms of the ideology of political Islam, it is not in crisis, but rather one cause of crises.  Both these aspects of Islam - religious observance and the political arena - seem to give the lie to the assertion that Islam is in retreat.  But focusing on the religiosity of Muslims or on the rise of political Islam simply deflects or disguises the problem.  The world which Islam has built over the centuries - its civilization in the broadest sense of the word - has been seriously undermined.  How this came about and whether the damage inflicted on Islamic civilization is terminal or not is the subject of this book.
-Ali Al Allawi,  from the prologue to The Crisis of Islamic Civilization

Fifty years ago.................................

The Ronettes........................................Sleigh Ride

If we must have rules................

...........these five would make a good start.  A sample:

5. And finally, love the detour. Take the longest route between two points, since the journey is the thing, a notion to which, contaminated by the Zen-fascist slogans of advertising, we all pay lip service but few of us indulge.

One for 24..............................

The Execupundit points to The Washington Post's best books of 2013.  I think we hang out in different book stores.   Just saying.

Depending on your definition of "long".....

















via

'Tis the season................................























Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Hope we get tickets this year..................

Trans-Siberian Orchestra...................Christmas Canon Rock

Opening paragraphs.........................

International Business Machines Corporation lore says that, in the early 1960's, CEO Tom Watson Jr. summoned to headquarters an executive who was responsible for a venture that lost $10 million.  Watson, whose fierce temper was legendary, asked the man if he knew why he'd been called in.  The man said he assumed he was being fired.  Watson responded:  "Fired?  Hell, I just spent $10 million educating you.  I just want to be sure you learned the right lessons."
-Paul B. Carroll and Chunka Mui,  from the introduction to: Billion Dollar Lessons:  What You Can Learn from the Most Inexcusable Business Failures of the Last 25 Years

Opening paragraphs (part 2).............

One Saturday morning, Groucho Marx was walking by St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York when he saw a bride stepping out of a limousine, her train floating gently behind her in the wind.  As he strode past her in that chickenlike lope of his, he twitched his cigar for emphasis and said, "Doan do it.  I tried it tree times.  It dudn't woik."
-Paul B. Carroll and Chunka Mui,  Billion Dollar Lessons:  What You Can Learn from the Most Inexcusable Business Failures of the Last 25 Years

Choose....................................

“We do not choose political freedom because it promises us this or that. We choose it because it makes possible the only dignified form of human coexistence, the only form in which we can be fully responsible for ourselves. Whether we realize its possibilities depends on all kinds of things — and above all on ourselves.”
-Karl Popper

Fifty years ago...........................

Sam Cooke....................................Little Red Rooster

Raw emotion on the slippery slope...............

Scott Adams, exhausted watching his father die a torturous death, is feeling scared, helpless and Angry with a Capital A.  Full post here.  Don't read it if carefreeness is the only thing on your agenda today.  Scott might have benefited mightily if he had a conversation about six months ago with my Sweetie, who has forgotten more about the wide world of hospice care than most of us will ever know.

Hmmm.........................

“That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.”
-Aldous Huxley

That's something you don't see everyday.....

The Washington Post gets a pat on the back from Mark J. Perry.

The Washington Post takes on "Big Sugar" in this editorial.

Perry concludes his post:  "US sugar policy violates the interests of consumers, and by doing so, violates the interests of the human race, in favor of a politically favored special interest group – “Big Sugar.” Kudos to the Washington Post for speaking up on behalf of the hundreds of millions of US consumers who pay about $3 billion in higher prices every year to Big Sugar because of the ongoing government-sanctioned protection that industry receives from more efficient foreign rivals."

Reasons why I like living in Newark and Licking County...............

Reason #88:  Salvation Army food boxes.

Every year, just before Christmas, the Salvation Army delivers a box of groceries to families who could use a box of groceries.  Tonight was the annual "pack the boxes" night at the Army HQ.  Forty some community minded souls gathered, and, like a well-oiled assembly line, in less than two hours packed 600 boxes full with cereal, peanut butter, crackers, jelly, juice box cartoons, cans of fruit and vegetables, cans of hearty soup, spaghetti sauce, noodles, mac and cheese, and other assorted food stuff.  Most days around here you can find similar examples of local people, in a very low key, no-need-for-recognition way, trying to make life a bit more pleasant for their fellow citizens.  We are truly blessed to be living in such a giving community.





Monday, December 2, 2013

Officially opening the Christmas music season...

August Burns Red..............................Carol of the Bells
(as always, please click on through to YouTube Central.
If you get an ad, wait it out.  Oh, and volume way up!)

Opening paragraphs...........................

No event has so captivated the interest of the American public as the Civil War.  It was the pivotal experience in the history of the United States, pitting brother against brother, section against section, and abolitionist against slaveholder.  Northerners rallied around the flag to preserve the Union, and later to destroy slavery, while Confederates took up arms to protect their liberties and to defend their homes.  At stake were not only the Union, the "peculiar institution" of slaver, and the rights of individuals under the Constitution but also the direction of this budding nation.  The war erupted at a time when America was teetering on the brink of economic and societal transition.  Industrialization, the transportation revolution, and burgeoning urban sprawl had begun to challenge the country's rural, community-oriented roots that predated its most articulate spokesman, Thomas Jefferson.  Tentacles of the federal government were extending deeply into the domain of state and local governments for the first time, commencing a long and drawn-out process of wresting from them much of their traditional might and influence.  In a strange way, a complex debate between concentrated and dispersed power lay near the war's epicenter.
-Joseph T. Glatthaar, Partners in Command:  The Relationships Between Leaders in the Civil War

Stonewall Jackson on War.....................

























Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson was one of the great  generals of the the Civil War.  You can read the Cliff Notes about his life and service here.  He is worthy of study.   A graduate of West Point, Jackson was seasoned by service in the Mexican-American war.  His death at Chancellorsville in May of 1863 was a huge loss for the Confederacy.  Here are a few things he said, or wrote:

“Always mystify, mislead, and surprise the enemy, if possible; and when you strike and overcome him, never let up in the pursuit so long as your men have strength to follow; for an army routed, if hotly pursued, becomes panic-stricken, and can then be destroyed by half their number. The other rule is, never fight against heavy odds, if by any possible maneuvering you can hurl your own force on only a part, and that the weakest part, of your enemy and crush it. Such tactics will win every time, and a small army may thus destroy a large one in detail, and repeated victory will make it invincible.” 

"The patriot volunteer, fighting for country and his rights, makes the most reliable soldier on earth."

“War means fighting. The business of the soldier is to fight. Armies are not called out to dig trenches, to throw up breastworks, to live in camps, but to find the enemy and strike him; to invade his country, and do him all possible damage in the shortest possible time. This will involve great destruction of life and property while it lasts; but such a war will of necessity be of brief continuance, and so would be an economy of life and property in the end.” 

"Always mystify, mislead and surprise the enemy if possible."

“Captain, my religious beliefs teach me to feel as safe in battle as in bed. God has fixed the time of my death. I do not concern myself with that, but to be always ready whenever it may overtake me. Captain, that is the way all men should live, and all men would be equally brave.” 

Life its ownself........................

Winslow Homer      The Gulf Stream      1899
















“All life is problem solving” 
-Karl Popper

Fifty years ago..............................

Jack Jones......................................Wives and Lovers

Getting huffy with the Pope................

Greg Mankiw takes aim at Pope Francis's recent slams statements against the "trickle-down" aspects of economic growth and free markets.  Full post is here.  Excerpt here:

"Third, as far as I know, the pope did not address the tax-exempt status of the church.  I would be eager to hear his views on that issue. Maybe he thinks the tax benefits the church receives do some good when they trickle down."

Living through history....................

Einstein, and other smart folks, have said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.  For better or worse, the Obama Administration has charted a course on Middle East policy that is far different than we are used to.  The impatient amongst us might not like it, but it will take a few years to find out if it was for better, or for worse.  The Economist (spoiler alert:  "Nobody knows whether the gamble with Iran will pay off.  But it is clear that the risks are low, the prize is potentially vast - and the alternative is dire.") tackles the question.

"For over three decades Iran and America have been blood enemies.  Their hatred, like the hatred between Palestinians and the Israelis, has framed the Middle East's alliances, and fuelled terror and war.  The interim deal over Iran's nuclear programme has not undone that - far from it.  But through the keyhole it offers a tantalizing glimpse of a different, better Middle East.  It is a vision worth fighting for."

"Pure fantasy, say the Gulf Arab states and Israel (and its allies in Congress).  Invoking Neville Chamberlain in Munich in 1938, they warn that the world is appeasing an aggressive and malign regime bent on a nuclear arsenal."

"a mystical traction"...........................

Sidewalk Sale                © Jeff Kopito














Full post on the wonder that is a book store - here

Fortunately...........................

"There's only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that's your own self."
-Aldous Huxley

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Finding more and more............

Brooks & Dunn..................................................Believe
(It's a great song.  Worth clicking through to Youtube Central)

Bifurcated America....................

     America also benefits from its distinctive political ideology and institutions.  Founded on Enlightenment ideals rather than a conqueror's battle lines or a monarch's bloodlines, they distributed power among the states and branches of the federal government.  Along with a dissident religious tradition, this has meant that in peacetime the United State is in an almost constant state of turmoil, which is evident even when it ventures abroad.  "Americans, in foreign policy, are torn," writes Robert Kagan, an American historian.  "Reluctant, then aggressive;  asleep at the switch, then quick on the trigger;  indifferent, then obsessed, then indifferent again.  They are a revolutionary power, but think they are a status-quo power."
-as excerpted from this essay in The Economist

It's a great day to be alive.............................

























































Verse.............................

Praise the Lord, all nations;
      Laud Him, all peoples!

2.  For His lovingkindness is great towards us.
     And the truth of the Lord is everlasting.
     Praise the Lord!

Psalm 117
The Holy Bible
New American Standard Version

Fifty years ago..................................

Johnny Tillotson.............................Talk Back Trembling Lips

Justifiers................................

"At least two thirds of our miseries spring from human stupidity, human malice, and those great motivators and justifiers of malice and stupidity;  idealism, dogmatism and proselytizing zeal on behalf of religious or political idols."
-Aldous Huxley

Opening paragraphs......................

There are four acknowledged wasy of meeting your maker:  You can die by natural causes including illness; you can die by accident;  you can die by another's hand; and you can die by your own hand.  However, if you live in Washington, D. C., there is a fifth way of kicking the bucket:  the political death.  It can spring from many sources:  frolicking in a public fountain with an exotic dancer who is not your spouse;  stuffing bags of money in your pants when the payer unfortunately happens to be the FBI;  or covering up a bungled burglary when you call 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue home.
-David Baldacci,  Simple Genius