Thursday, September 7, 2023


      If you allow yourself to be awed by life, to keep drinking in its limitless knowledge, to keep striving for answers, to enjoy the beauty around us at every moment, to never stagnate . . . well, then you might find yourself living for a very long time, and ideally, prospering.  Or, in the absence of the longevity and self-defined prosperity you seek, you might well find meaning, or even better, happiness.

-William Shatner, as lifted from Boldly Go: Reflections On a Life of Awe and Wonder

A reminder............................


Stressing the importance....................

 ..........................of these three things.

sitting in a cafe................

Paul Cezanne   Oil on Canvas  1894-95  The Card Players

 I’m glad Cezanne was not here in Key West

to set up an easel, and paint
the card game I was in last night,
unless he was really good at depicting despondency.

Cezanne once said that a single carrot,
if painted in a completely fresh way,
would be enough to set off a revolution.
I’ll bet he was sitting in a café that day

where such observations are usually made,
but if I had been sitting in that café
across from Cezanne, I would have quipped
“Maybe if Bugs Bunny were in charge of things,”

and I would have described in a fresh way
how the famous rabbit might be portrayed
using a carrot to point the mob to the Bastille.

Beer and chips and more beer and chips
were served at the poker table,
but no carrot soup, a staple on every menu
in the bunny rabbit stories of Beatrix Potter

and a dish that would have warmed me
inside and out the way a good soup does
and made me feel much better
about losing all my money and then some.

But at least now I have found the answer
to the old question of who would you invite
to your ideal dinner party:
Paul Cezanne, Bugs Bunny, Beatrix Potter,
and okay, maybe at the last minute, Gore Vidal.

Billy Collins, The Card Players

within the sweep of history..................

 One basic rule I try to follow when I write about current affairs is to remember that I do not live in extraordinary times.  We live within the sweep of history, not outside it, and it's our nature as conscious beings to assume that our times must be special because we live in them.  But better to remember that today's crises will be little remembered.

-Fredrick deBoer, How Elites Ate the Social Justice Movement

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

 Spend enough time in activist spaces and you start to see the patterns unfold before you, like a skipping record.  I am now some twenty-five years into a career as a part-time organizer.  Some years I've organized more, some I've organized less, and I took a break during grad school, but I've tried to get involved one way or another since I first became politically conscious as a teenager.  Over that time, I have watched the same dynamics play out again and again, dedicated organizers falling into the same sad patterns that obstruct progress.  The victories have been real, but the failures have been more frequent and bitter, sometimes resulting in the fracturing of groups and friendships.  There are many stories I could tell, and in this book I will tell some of them.

-Fredrik deBoer, from his Introduction to How Elites Ate the Social Justice Movement

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

In the background............................

Joe Nichols.................................The Impossible album



First, I would have her be beautiful,
and walking carefully up on my poetry
at the loneliest moment of an afternoon,
her hair still damp at the neck
from washing it.  She should be wearing
a raincoat, an old one, dirty 
from not having money enough for the cleaners.
She will take out her glasses, and there
in the bookstore, she will thumb
over my poems, then put the book back
up on its shelf.  She will say to herself,
"For that kind of money, I can get
my raincoat cleaned."  And she will.

-Ted Kooser, Selecting A Reader



Sometimes you just have to stay silent because no words can explain what’s going on in your heart and mind.

-attributed to Maanayata Dutt





A father writes to a son.................

 You might think you want an expensive car, a fancy watch, and a huge house. But I’m telling you, you don’t. What you want is respect and admiration from other people, and you think having expensive stuff will bring it. It almost never does – especially from the people you want to respect and admire you.

-Morgan Housel

Can I get an Amen............................

 If a book sucks, stop reading it. The best readers actually quit a lot of books. Life is too short to read books you don’t enjoy reading.

-Ryan Holiday

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

      That Veronica and I were given keys and told to come early on a frozen Saturday in April to open the school for the Our Town auditions was proof of our dull reliability.  The play's director, Mr. Martin, was my grandmother's friend and State Farm agent.  That's how I was wrangled in, through my grandmother, and Veronica was wrangled because we did pretty much everything together.  Citizens of New Hampshire could not get enough of Our Town.  We felt about the play the way other Americans felt about the Constitution or the "Star-Spangled Banner."  It spoke to us, made us feel special and seen.  Mr. Martin predicted a large turnout for the auditions, which explained why he need use of the school gym for the day.  The community theatre production had nothing to do with our high school, but seeing as how Mr. Martin was also the principal's insurance agent and very likely his friend, the request was granted.  Ours was that kind of town.

-Ann Patchett, Tom Lake

thanks David


 We all know that something is eternal. And it ain’t houses and it ain’t names, and it ain’t earth, and it ain’t even the stars . . . everybody knows in their bones that something is eternal, and that something has to do with human beings. All the greatest people ever lived have been telling us that for five thousand years and yet you’d be surprised how people are always losing hold of it. There’s something way down deep that’s eternal about every human being.

-The Stage Manager, channeling Thornton Wilder in Our Town

Monday, September 4, 2023

Henri Matisse....................

 Today all it takes to buy a Matisse is a lot of money.  Sixty-odd years ago it was not wealth that was needed so much as courage, faith in the new, and a bit of artistic clairvoyance.  In the early 1900s, such qualities were almost nonexistent among French collectors and gallery owners, who considered Matisse a misguided radical, hardly a good investment.  At his few exhibitions his paintings were jeered at for their implausible colors, two-dimensional quality and primitive design: practically none were bought.

-The World of Matisse 1869-1954, published by Time-Life Books in 1969

Henri Matisse   The Open Window   Oil on canvass  1905

Self Portrait    1906

Joy of Life       1905

Dance     1910

On the importance of problems..................

 And most people are not satisfied merely to be confident in the survival of the species: they want to survive personally.  Also, like our early ancestors, they want to be free from physical danger and suffering.  In the future, as various causes of suffering and death such as disease and aging are successively addressed and eliminated, and human life spans increase, people will care about ever longer-term risks.

     In fact people will always want still more than that: they will want to make progress.  For, in addition to threats, there will always be problems in the benign sense of the word: errors, gaps, inconsistencies and inadequacies in our knowledge that we wish to solve—including, not least, moral knowledge: knowledge about what to want, what to strive for.  The human mind seeks explanations; and know that we know how to find them, we are not going to stop voluntarily.  Here is another misconception in the Garden of Eden myth: that the supposed unproblematic state would be a good state to be in.  Some theologians have denied this, and I agree with them: an unproblematic state is a state without creative thought.  Its other name is death.

-David Deutsch, The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations that Transform the World


      What actually separates thriving organizations from struggling ones are the difficult-to-measure attitudes, processes, and perceptions of the people who do the work.

     Culture defeats strategy every time.  Measurable skills without productive attitudes aren't worth much.

-Seth Godin, The Song of Significance


     As we develop love, appreciation, and forgiveness for others over time, we may accidentally develop those things towards ourselves, too.  While you might think it's a trick, having affection for one's goofy, crabby, annoying, lovely self is home.  This has been my meager salvation.

     That we are designed for joy is exhilarating, within reach, now or perhaps later today, after a nap, as long as we do not mistake excitement for joy.  Joy is good cheer.  My partner says joy and curiosity are the same thing.  Joy is always a surprise, and often a decision.

-Anne Lamott, Almost Everything: Notes on Hope


 At the birth of societies, the leaders of republics create the institutions; thereafter, it is the institutions that form the leaders of republics.


as revolutions go........................

      As a permanent structure, the Articles of Confederation did not work.  But as a means of transition, a bridge into the future, it served a purpose, and, arguably, succeeded brilliantly.  Edmund Morgan, another giant of the field, writes: "If the American Revolution was in any sense a civil war"—which in part it was—"the Confederation did a much faster and better job of reconstruction than the United States did after Appomattox."  That is, the American Revolution did not turn on itself, with the victors shattering into warring factions and a government that maintains power only by the exercise of violence against citizens, as has happened so often with other successful rebellions, as in France in the eighteenth century and Russia in the twentieth.

     A peaceful outcome was not a given.  The Revolutionary generation would have had in mind Montesquieu's warning that the great first hurdle of nationhood was surviving the shift from war to peace.

Thomas E. Ricks, First Principles

one of the most difficult questions.........

 The nature of appeasement—what it was, how to implement it, when to stop it—became the key issue of British politics for most of the 1930s.

     It is important to remember that a narrow but strong strain of sympathy for fascism, and even for Hitler, ran through part of the English aristocracy.  Most prominent of those seen friendly to Germany was Lord Londonberry, a relative of Churchill's who served in the Cabinet in the early 1930s and then briefly was leader of the House of Lords.  Orwell once commented that "whether the British ruling class are wicked or merely stupid is one of the most difficult questions of our time, and at certain moments a very important question."  It is possible that he had Lord Londonberry in mind when he wrote this.

-Thomas E. Ricks:  Churchill & Orwell: The Fight For Freedom

Sunday, September 3, 2023

I miss these guys.....................

Clark and Dawes with a timeless piece explaining how our financial system "works".


The Queen City.................

 My Sweetie and I ventured to Cincinnati over the weekend.  We both agreed we could live comfortably in the downtown area (if we could figure out how to have a garden).  Lots going on. It also appeared that there is a concentrated effort to restore many of the grand old buildings, of which Cincinnati has many.  Fun time.  Highly recommended.

One of the first stops was the Rhinegeist Brewery
Took the tour and drank their beer (or tea).  Our
guide said that the Over-The-Rhine district in the
city got its name back in the canal days.  A canal
separated the breweries from the residential district. 
The early workers tended to be Germans. They
named the canal after the Rhine River in their
homeland.  Going to work, they had to go over
the "Rhine". Can't verify the truth, but it makes a
good story.  Good beer too.

The guide books say that the Findlay Market is
pretty special.  We went. Pretty cool.  Big crowd
for a Saturday afternoon.

A wee portion of the inside part of Findlay Market

Seeking some shade in Washington Park, we
stopped to enjoy kids playing in the fountain.

My Sweetie and the mighty Ohio River

Old friends sit for a spell.

Cincinnati is known for its murals.  Rightly so.

my favorite

a mural in progress

Some new architecture to go with the old

A controversial sculpture of our 16th president,
without his beard.

A nighttime view of the downtown from our hotel's
rooftop bar

Pretty busy coffee

Is there anything man-made more perfect than
a baseball diamond?  90 feet between bases,
60' 6" from the mound to the plate.  Timeless.

Mascots messing around pre-game entertaining
early arrivers

Forgot the sun screen.  Only bad idea of the weekend

Can't leave Cincinnati without saying "Hi" to Pete Rose