Friday, August 31, 2012

Whoa! Wait a minute…

Hurricane Isaac wasn't the worst storm to hit the Gulf coast, but it was bad, very bad, hundreds of thousands of people suffering, thousands of businesses suffering…

So I'm trying not to think of this as a humorous swipe in the context of that rampage of Nature….still, I am snorking a bit as I mention this Associated Press report:

"Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said officials may cut a hole in a levee on the east bank of Plaquemines Parish to relieve pressure on the structure. At a news conference in Baton Rouge, Jindal said there was no estimate on when that might occur. He said as many as 40 people are reportedly in need of rescue in the area."


Now, we’re talking about cutting “a hole in the levee” as a remedial measure…..something is terribly wrong here, right? Haven't we had some kind of spectacular planning/engineering failure if we’re talking about chopping a hole in the levee to make things BETTER?!!!!!!......who’s gonna take responsibility for this one?


If the levee system can't protect the residents and businesses in a Category 1 Hurricane, doesn't that suggest a bigger, badder truth? Maybe we shouldn't try to protect everyplace that's been protected in the past. Why are we spending tax dollars to build levees that the good governor thinks have to be destroyed so we can save people?

Ooops! (part 5)


Ooops! (Part 4)

Oooops! (part 3)


Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Republican convention so far…

Here's my take, short and sweet. I don't watch TV, so my reaction is based on news coverage online and in the blogosphere. Btw, the quality of the news coverage has been real, real close to dreadful so far….

I watched Gov. Christie's speech in full on YouTube yesterday afternoon, and I watched about five minutes or so of Ann Romney's speech….Christie? it was all Christie, all the time…….Mrs. Romney? sincere, sentimental, largely irrelevant to the issues of the campaign…I didn't get around to listening to Ryan yet.....


So, the convention? Nothing new so far. Still no new details on Romney's proposed new policies or programs or philosophy.

What is he waiting for?




The wisdom of Gore Vidal on democracy.....

...no water guns at the convention....


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

That national debt clock…

That national debt clock should have flashing lights that say "Bush-era tax cuts are mostly to blame."

You know the idea of the big national debt clock, it ticks in dollars and shows the continually growing national debt. The Republicans decided to hang one of these on the wall at their convention, in an effort to hang the national debt around President Obama's neck.

A mystifying decision, because both Republicans and Democrats over the last 50 years have fully and equally contributed to the government policies that created and perpetuate the national debt.



Don't get me wrong, I'm not in favor of the national debt. The annual interest payments are high. I don't like the idea of being perpetually in debt. We should be committed to paying it off slowly. I'm willing to pay more taxes to do it.

But let's talk straight about what causes the national debt.

Every dollar spent without a matching tax dollar coming in, and every tax dollar NOT collected without a matching cut in spending, contributes to the national debt.





And the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities says the Bush-era tax cuts are now the biggest factor in boosting the national debt. Without those tax cuts, we'd all be paying more taxes and the national debt would be a lot smaller.

The Bush tax cuts increase the national debt three times as much as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Bush tax cuts increase the national debt two times as much as the national economic downturn.

Now, full disclosure: the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities is a liberal-oriented think tank, doesn't mean their data is wrong, and anyway you can make your own decision about whether keeping the Bush-era tax cuts in force actually helps or hurts the national debt situation.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The wisdom of Albert Einstein


"If you can't explain it simply,
         you don't understand it well enough."

Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

This is very appealing to me, very intuitive, very challenging….

You've heard of the "elevator speech" concept, you know, distill your sales pitch or your resume or your big idea to an explanation you can deliver while the elevator is rising from the first floor to the fifth floor……

I've heard the concept expressed this way: Figure out how to explain it to your 13-year-old daughter. When you figure that out, you've got a good explanation. If she's not interested, that's another matter….

Think about your most cherished belief, or your strongest political opinion, or your truest love….challenge yourself, express it simply, purely, convince yourself….

Monday, August 27, 2012

Water guns!? No way!


Real guns? Well, yeah.....

Mayor Bob Buckhorn of Tampa, Florida, has banned water guns in public this week during the Republican National Convention. It's expected that protesters and demonstrators will try to create a major public disturbance…

Thank goodness the conventioneers won't have to worry about being injured by a water gun while doing their duty for party and country.


Real guns? That's another story. Here's what Wikipedia has to say about this (I haven't seen this particular news coverage in any other media):

This is a water gun!
"Florida has some of the most lenient gun laws in the United States with 6.5% of adults licensed to carry concealed weapons. Local governments in Florida are prohibited from having gun ordinances stricter than state law. While water guns have been banned during the week of the event, handguns will be permitted outside of the Convention Center. Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn requested that authorities be allowed to ban guns from downtown Tampa during the convention. Governor Rick Scott rejected the request."

Doesn't make sense to me.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The wisdom of George Santayana

"Almost every wise saying has an opposite one,
          no less wise,
                to balance it."

George Santayana (1863-1952)
Philosopher, essayist, poet, novelist

Dash it all! I know in my heart this may well be true in some cases, but I also know that's not really the point. A wise saying—a pithy quote, a ringing admonition, a melodious epigram—stands alone in the moment when you read it. It strikes terror in your heart, or it lifts that old heart up for just a sec, or it teaches you in a flash…


So then, Jorge Agustín Nicolás Ruiz de Santayana y Borrás,  go away, take your contrary insight with you, stifle yourself…and anyway—here I introduce the Paradox Of Santayana's Quip About Wise Sayings—if what you say is true, then somewhere in the blogosphere or in the unpublished ratiocinations of a deliberately thoughtful man or woman there is a countervailing uber-quip that demonstrates just how very wrong you are…



http://barleyliterate.blogspot.com/2012/08/the-wisdom-of-denis-leary.html

http://barleyliterate.blogspot.com/2012/08/the-wisdom-of-richard-dawkins.html

http://barleyliterate.blogspot.com/2012/07/wisdom-of-dear-abby.html

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Neil Armstrong, R.I.P


"…one giant leap for mankind."

Neil Alden Armstrong (1930-2012)
American astronaut, first moonwalker

Mr. Armstrong climbed down that little ladder on the Apollo 11 lunar excursion module on July 20, 1969, and stepped onto the surface of the moon. The "giant leap for mankind."




It sure was thrilling. I was at Ft. Benning, GA, doing officer's basic training, nothing really fun about that, living in semi-wretched rented quarters in Columbus, nothing really fun about that either…the scheduled moonwalk was big news, lucky for me Neil did his thing while I wasn't on the base, so I sat there in my rented living room and I got to watch him taking those sort of hop-steps, going backwards down the ladder, until he planted both feet on the moon's surface. Yowee!

You really didn't have to be there (on the moon, I mean) to feel the brand new magical inspiration of knowing that a human being was walking on the moon. Way up there, way out there, y'know? Jules Verne was right, it was fantastic.

I think most of the time we don't take enough time to really fully imagine what the word "extra-terrestrial" means….

Hats off to Neil Armstrong, a real brave man who did real good!

We're cooking the planet….(part 5)


We're cooking the planet.

Since the advent of the Industrial Revolution in England in the late 18th century we've transformed our business, commercial and cultural activities in ways that degraded Earth's atmosphere and changed planetary climate conditions. Nearly all of the scientists in the world say that's a fact.


Item: Ice in the Arctic seas is melting faster than ever before, and ice cover in the Arctic ocean is shrinking.

My grandchildren and your grandchildren are going to be living on a planet that is less hospitable than it is now for us. That makes me want to do things to start correcting the mistakes we've made with fossil fuels and environmental carelessness.


It's not just the lefty, tree-hugging, nature-loving environmentalists like the folks at CommonDreams.org  who are saying this, just in the last few days take a look at:

Huffington Post

Reuters

The Guardian

BBC

Business week


Friday, August 24, 2012

The wisdom of Gore Vidal

"Apparently, a democracy is a place where numerous elections
                             are held at great cost
        without issues and with interchangeable candidates."

Gore Vidal (1925-2012)
Writer and unrestrained public figure



I think it may be impossible to have a single opinion about Gore Vidal. I've read a couple of his historical novels (Burr, Lincoln), I loved the movie "Ben Hur" (Vidal was the screenwriter), and I've seen a couple of his televised interviews….Vidal offers so much more, and he probably offers something to irritate almost everyone….I wouldn't want to be on that deserted island, just me and him…


His caustic remark about democracy is troubling to me, but not because I think he's got it just right…his casual dig at democracy is a reminder that there are deeper problems with our form of government, in concept.

Let's be honest, we don't have a functioning participatory democracy—too many people don't vote—and we don't have a functioning implementation of the treasured Enlightenment conception of reasonable, dedicated, upright elected representatives who see the big picture and govern generally in support of the common good…you can add your own disappointments….

Churchill famously said that a democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the other kinds….but he didn't mention possible solutions.

I'm not sure there are feasible solutions…I'm going to keep voting anyway, because it's the best thing I can do.

http://barleyliterate.blogspot.com/2012/08/the-wisdom-of-winston-churchillpart-3.html

http://barleyliterate.blogspot.com/2012/04/wisdom-of-winston-churchill.html

http://barleyliterate.blogspot.com/2011/12/wisdom-of-winston-churchill.html



Thursday, August 23, 2012

"You're not excused 'til you finish your dinner…"

I don't know if you ever heard that when you were a kid, I really don't remember any such admonition, although I'm pretty sure my siblings and I got the "you have to take at least one bite" treatment from time to time….

I'm a pretty good eater, I eat almost anything, but I don't do okra and I don't do snails and I don't do calamari, and maybe there are a few more I could mention if I took a little time, for instance, oatmeal isn't one of my big favorites, but I do like raw oysters and in my younger years I was a fan of steak tartare….

Anyway, I started thinking about what I do eat and don't eat because I read this Aug. 22 piece on www.commondreams.org, see full text here, and I was stunned. Americans don't eat 40% of the food they buy. Yow. I had this quick flashback about getting an earful on "all the starving people in China," I guess in the 1950s there were an awful lot of starving people in China, and elsewhere…a lot of starving people in the world still....

Anyway, 40% wastage is real bad news. According to commondreams.org, discarding all that food costs us $165 billion a year, wastes one-quarter of our fresh water, and accounts for almost one-quarter of methane gas emissions, which are screwing up our atmosphere.

Half of fresh seafood goes to waste, and more than half of the harvest of fruits and vegetables never gets into anyone's tummy.

So, I'm going to try harder to eat the peaches when they're fresh, and remember the plastic container of romaine in the bottom bin of the frig, and remember to reach for the old bottle of mustard in the back of the frig instead of opening a new one, and apply a little discipline to eat those great leftovers while they're still great…

…and once or twice I've tried to order a smaller portion in the restaurant, I'm going to keep trying…


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The wisdom of Jim Kovarik

"No matter where you go, there you are."
Jim Kovarik

I'm pretty sure you read that twice.

But there's no hidden meaning there, it's all out in the open, it's about acceptance, it's about self-validation, it's about willingness to meet the future, it's about being who you are when you're "there," it's about transforming "there" into "here".....and I think it's an intimate expression of self-motivation, it's a strong point of view.
Try it for yourself.





The wisdom of Teddy Roosevelt

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Y'know, stuff!


My name is Rick, and I'm a collector. Y'know, a pack rat….it usually seems to me that a lot of stuff is important for me to keep so I can read it or use it later, although it seems like pretty often I never get around to reading it or using it.

I love books, I'd fill my garage with books if I could get permission (not likely)….I'm struggling with piles of books that just seem to get taller and taller…

And I've accumulated lots of other stuff too, boxes full, y'know? I don't really feel apologetic about it, but I'm finally sort of making the transition to being more selective right up front. I just put more book shelves on the wall, for example, and I'm working on a personal pledge to avoid creating any new piles of books or other stuff. Wish me luck.

Anyway, there's a great piece by Gretchen Rubin in the August 19 Sunday New York Times, titled "Good stuff," if you like being surrounded by your stuff, especially if you can't help yourself, I think you'll enjoy this little excursion over to the dark side of being a collector….and by the way, Gretchen mentions that 1 out of 10 American households (but not me) uses a rented storage unit in one of those U-Stor-It places, and she cites a Department of Energy estimate that 25% of folks with two-car garages don't even park one car in them……yup, you know what's in those double-wide garages….

"Stuff" is a grandly understated word, especially when you're thinking about YOUR cherished stuff—the late great George Carlin did a few timeless skits on "stuff," and here's a YouTube link for one of them. Enjoy.

The wisdom of George Carlin

Monday, August 20, 2012

Christie! Oh nooooo!!!!


One of my personal rules is that I despise ad hominem attacks, and so I try real hard not to get personal when I criticize folks who aren't in my region of the political spectrum.

Gov. Christie of New Jersey makes life difficult for me. It's so hard to fastidiously refrain from saying he's rude and he's crude, and I thank my stars he's not family…..

So I'll stick to tactical reasons for panning Romney's choice of this self-important, photogenic bloviator with no apparent verbal inhibitions as the keynote speaker at the Republican convention that starts next week.

Christie certainly appeals to a segment of the voting population. And I give him his due: he was elected governor of the great state of New Jersey.

But gosh! The man is a walking advertisement for the worst in humanity's public and private political motivations. He is deliberately obnoxious. It seems there is no slur or linguistic impropriety or pugnacious exaggeration he is unwilling to utter in front of a microphone and cameras.

He turns me off, and I think some folks here and there may feel the same….he makes highly charged public statements, the kind that invite attack and disdain….he is personally ambitious, and he will take the spotlight away from Romney/Ryan…

He's a divisive public figure, a regrettable example of Romney's dedication to giving consolation prizes to the right wing of his party.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that Christie couldn't possibly be a nice person….

I'm not real keen on Ryan, either...

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The wisdom of Merle P. Martin

"There is nothing so simple that it cannot be made difficult."


Merle P. Martin
Not really sure who Merle Martin is…


I think this may have something to do with the idea that there are only two kinds of problems: Big problems and Little problems, except that Little problems aren't really problems…

And of course it's true that some things aren't very simple, but surely the point here is NOT that everything is complicated…



There may indeed be an un-difficult explanation or solution to a quite complicated issue, and yet, actually agreeing on such a solution, and putting it into practice, may so often get us into a sticky wicket, or an ideological slough of despond….I tend to think that the real message is:

"There is nothing so important that it cannot be made difficult."

A thought from Teddy Roosevelt

...and one from John Maynard Keynes

...and don't forget old Ben Franklin

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Fahrenheit 77, or thereabouts….



I clipped this from a Facebook timeline, really doesn't need much explanation, if you have one of these babies nearby you live in a nicer neighborhood than I do….


This very red, very solid, very British (see crown above door), very dutifully repainted telephone booth is somewhere in England, in a nice town where the inhabitants just couldn't resist using a convenient spot for an "honor system" book exchange, you know, you leave one, you take one, you leave one, you take two…..admit it, it could happen, first you grab The Count of Monte Cristo, and then you see a nice old copy of The Three Musketeers, you haven't re-read much of Dumas lately, so naturally you hope no one is watching and you snatch both of 'em….

You're only human….and you promise yourself you're going to take both of 'em back…

ahhhhh....a real bookstore




Friday, August 17, 2012

"Welcome, welcome, emigrante!"

For me, it would be enough to mention that this is the wisdom of Buffy Sainte-Marie. Perhaps you've heard of her. 


She's a Cree Indian, she's from Canada, she sings (think "Universal Soldier," "Until It's Time For You To Go," "Circle Game"….), she did a long stint on Sesame Street in the late 1970s, and yeah, she's political about Indian affairs, she's 71 years old and still going strong, I heard her modern performance last year, it sure wasn't "Pocahontas with a guitar"—Buffy's disdainful description of the image that some misguided well-wishers created for her years ago—I loved her concert, same old Buffy, singing about the same old uncomfortable realities that she has never shied from mentioning, I loved it…..

I thought about her less well-known "Welcome, welcome, emigrante!" when I read this week that the Obama administration has launched its newest program to do what's right for young illegal immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children and have led decent lives here. The program offers almost two million of our non-threatening neighbors an opportunity to avoid the threat of deportation. It ain't citizenship for free…..it's a decent recognition that they're here, they're part of us. Of course it's "political," in an election year. That doesn't mean it doesn't make sense. Ezra Klein of the Washington Post published a brief rundown on it, see the text here.

I join Buffy in saying:

"Welcome, welcome, emigrante!
To the country that I love."

Immigration...a bottom line
...another bottom line

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The wisdom of Winston Churchill….(part 3)

"Success is the ability to go from one failure to another
          with no loss of enthusiasm."

Winston Churchill (1874-1965)
British prime minister during World War II

Many of us know enough about Winston to know that he put the emphasis on "enthusiasm" when he said this, not on "failure."

In fact, he reportedly had a penchant for saying "we must just keep buggering on" whenever the going got rough, which happened with remarkable frequency during the war.


I think the intuitive element in this epigram is the acceptance of "failure" occurring more or less every bit as often as "success" comes our way, two steps forward, one step back, that sort of thing…it is constructive to keep this in mind, and it does make a material contribution to a reasonably durable connection with reality….



If you incline toward rushing pell-mell to the finish line with the winner's smile already on your face, you should open up that old dictionary and check the word "hubris"……

More from Winston..

and more.....



Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Don't vote for incumbents!


The Gallup polling organization reports again that 90% of Americans don't like "the job Congress is doing." That's an all-time low….and by the way, Republicans and Democrats give essentially the same answers.

That's not hard to understand. What, exactly, is Congress doing? The real answer is: nothing much.

The current batch of 535 elected senators and Representatives has actually passed less legislation than any Congress in recent history, or maybe since the dawn of time…..and it's obviously true that Congress has done doggone little to try to boost our national economic growth or stimulate the creation of more jobs.

OK, we all know this.


So, here's my question: why didn't Gallup also ask all those survey respondents why they keep voting to send their incumbent senators and representatives back to Congress? Incumbents keep winning re-election, in some cases by very handy majorities.

Who are the people who diss Congress, but vote time after time to send their local pols back to Washington? Even if they love their congressperson, isn't it obvious that he/she isn't doing the job as part of the whole bunch who are grotesquely failing to do what's right for America and Americans?

And another thing: who are the 10% who think Congress is doing a good job? What remarkable alternative reality frames their thinking? Can there be 10% of Americans who really aren't capable of understanding their own self-interest?

Realistically, if you think Congress is doing a great job, you have wrong ideas about the stability of our civil society, the economics of our social/governmental infrastructure and the dangerously worsening environmental future of our planet…..which, by the way, is the place where your grandchildren will grow up….

What's the point?

I don't get it....

I didn't get it before either....

Another take on fighting incumbents:




Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Book review: Saint Martin's Summer by Rafael Sabatini

Rafael Sabatini (1875-1950)

Saint Martin's Summer, published in 1909, is a historical romance, Sabatini's signature style.
Think of it as a very high toned beach book….
Here's my take on it:

Jason Bourne would be bored in Dauphiny.

It's a sleepy, rural French province, but there is the occasional sword play, and some moat diving, so he wouldn't be bored all the way to tears…

But let's just face up to it, in your classic Romantic novel about 18th century French dowager marquises and blundering bounders and dashing heroes and cherishable maidens and fat, simpering seneschals, you're going to get more talk than titillation, and more argument than action. So be it.

Sabatini deftly creates his tale of principled, introspective people trying for success, both villainous and otherwise.



His characters have deep appeal—they're always trying to do the right thing, or at least trying to do a bad thing the right way…e.g., Grenache knows he must save the girl, and he knows he will love her deeply…

They care deeply—about the ones they love, about their success in a milieu that maximizes opportunity for deception and ultimately minimizes the prospect of getting away with a betrayal or self-dealing or moral weakness.

Sabatini is a colorful storyteller, and he tells a great story about things that count.

More on Sabatini.....

Bookstores for book lovers...

L. P. Hartley's art...

The Financier

1491....the book

Monday, August 13, 2012

The wisdom of a midshipman's prayer…

If you've never had the startlingly moving experience of enjoying a service in the chapel on the grounds of the Naval Academy in Annapolis, put it on your bucket list. The building and its interior are an unforgettable milieu, and if you go there, you may feel, as I did, submerged in its history and the enduring sense of honorable duty it inspires and represents.

I thankfully took away this excerpt from "A Midshipman's Prayer," written by a cadet midshipman and printed in the program for the August 5 service at 11 a.m.:

"…If I am inclined to doubt, steady my faith; if I am tempted, make me strong to resist; if I should miss the mark, give me courage to try again…."

No need to try again to express those sentiments, he was right on the mark.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The wisdom of Abraham Lincoln... (part 4)


"You have to do your own growing
             no matter how tall your grandfather was."
Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)
16th President of the United States

Abe had his own way of sagely deflating the pompous ones and the imprudently ambitious ones who crossed his path.

"You have to do your own growing…" is a corollary of the maxim that "You can't live someone else's life."

It's your life.

Opportunities for personal growth, including the kind that hurts a little, are everywhere and every day…

What do you want to be when you grow up?



More from Old Abe.....

...and more of Lincoln's savvy....

...and a little more....

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Just a thought on the Paul Ryan pick…

I've been wondering for several months how much of a consolation prize Romney would toss to the partisan Tea Party folks when he picks his Veep. Now I know.

Sheesh! I never thought he'd go this far. I think Ryan is a dead weight around Romney's neck. Now many of the highly committed Tea Party folks and many on the GOP right, who have wanted to vote for anyone who's not President Obama and who weren't really sold on Romney, will be able to sigh contentedly and vote for the Republican nominee. Many of the other folks who were considering or leaning toward Romney may decide they want to think again….

I'm going to vote for President Obama, it's gonna be very interesting watching Obama-Biden campaign against Ryan. I think Ryan is vulnerable. Romney and Ryan have incompatible political histories. To what extent will Romney have to campaign against Ryan and his budget proposals?



The search for a VP....

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The wisdom of Denis Leary

"Racism isn't born, folks. It's taught. I have a 2-year-old son. Know what he hates? Naps. End of list."

Denis Leary (b. 1957)

Stand-up comedian and stand-up kind of guy

It's a pretty good idea to keep the "Things I Hate" list pretty short. Denis Leary is helping his son get started in a pretty good way.

I've always been glad and proud that my parents didn't teach me to hate much of anything. Racism isn't the only kind of hatred that's passed on from generation to generation…

Y'know, there are big problems and there are little problems, and the little problems really aren't problems…I think hatred can be addictive for some people…..it would be great if everybody would inscribe the "Things I Hate" on the B List, and then try pretty much to concentrate on the A List stuff.

The wisdom of the old farmer

...what the Archbishop said...

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Lorne Greene: please call me

I make no pretense that I'm about to offer a uniquely witty little commentary on how much of a doofus I am with the TV/cable box remote control....I'm going deeper.

I'm not a doofus about setting up the system, and I can navigate around my own home cable system, more or less no problem....

Put me in front of your set-up in your house? With two different remotes? Unfamiliar protocol for turning it on?

Uh oh.

Anyway, here's my main point:

I'm looking at this Comcast remote. It's almost a foot long. Truly, it takes two hands to use it if you want to push all the buttons. And, gee whiz! it has 53 buttons! Eight different shapes, five different colors, several alluring mode selections ---there are six words I really don't recognize...

It is, more or less, rocket science.

I'm pretty sure this remote was designed by someone who knows where the bathrooms are on Battlestar Galactica.

Who uses all these buttons?

I wish Commander Adama could give me a call...

Monday, August 6, 2012

Fair winds for the Woodwind....

OK, so it's not Errol Flynn stuff, definitely no buccaneers in sight, and the north end of the beeyootiful Chesapeake Bay is not exactly the bounding main....

....nevertheless, a day cruise out of Annapolis on the good ship Woodwind, a staysail schooner with a meticulously friendly crew of 5, is a pretty good way to spend an afternoon on the water, under the hot sun, with a little spray in your face, and no particular inclination for time to pass quickly....

The westerly breeze was pretty stiff, the water more than slightly choppy, it wasn't exactly a thrilling dash, more of a steadily exhilarating escapade across the bay, tacking thus and so, giving the magic physics of sailing a good workout...

....until the approaching storm clouds moved our wary captain to head back to our berth, a bit early, but no one complained, we prudently kept dry and avoided the dubious thrill of failing to outrun the storm...

I'm a landlubber, no doubt about it, we were landlubbers all, no maritime history or heroes in our group, but we spent a marvelous hour on the Woodwind, it was an elementally good time....

Sunday, August 5, 2012

ahhhh! ....... a real bookstore

Just didn't want to miss a chance to say that wandering through a real bookstore is an afternoon delight...

I mean the kind of bookstore that doesn't have a clothing section and 8 checkout registers and employees with job titles like "barrista"......

I really don't mind at all when I have to get down on one knee and sort of turn my head upside down to read the titles of the American history books that are stacked wrong side up on the bottom shelf behind the rickety shelving that's labeled "Poetry" and "Classical Arts" with little hand-lettered labels that were taped on but are starting to peel off in all directions....

I love the chance to actually handle the "special" books in the locked case behind the owner's cluttered desk, the ones that are, let's be honest, overpriced, but every once in a while I buy one because the temptation to own a musty 1866 copy of sermons delivered by notable churchmen after the assassination of President Lincoln is just too much to ignore....

See, Barnes & Noble is never going to carry that one....and I don't think it would be all that easy to download it to my Kindle.

Awright,  you got me, I have a Kindle, I've used it, I kind of feel OK reading books on that puppy, I know it's the 21st century and all...

But, here's the clincher for me:  no matter how close I hold that Kindle to my nose, it's never going to smell like that book of sermons calling on the Almighty to bless his servant, Old Abe....

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Breathless disinformation...

I'm so tired of the news media and the cable TV talking heads treating every news release like the latest horse race results in the presidential campaign.

Like many people, I was happy yesterday to hear a good monthly jobs report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nice to know that some more Americans are back to work.

But all the prattle about the impact of this report on President Obama's re-election prospects is so much drivel. The Aug. 4 report will be sooooooooo forgotten by Nov. 6. I dare you to try to remember it in three months.

It's a lie to suggest that this particular report has or will have any specific influence on how you and I and all the other folks will vote in November. The media and the talking heads can't help themselves, I know that....but I can help myself.

I'm tuned out.
Try it.
Feels good.


....and by the way, what are the so-called "job creators" actually doing, anyway? Who are they? What are they waiting for?

Friday, August 3, 2012

The wisdom of Richard Dawkins

"By all means let's be open-minded,
          but not so open-minded that our brains drop out."

Richard Dawkins (b. 1941)
Evolutionary biologist and ethologist

By all means.

Being open-minded doesn't mean that everyone is right, and it doesn't mean that we can't really be sure about right and wrong.

And in some cases it doesn't mean that the other fellow's opinion is as good as yours or mine….it depends on which reasons and which facts the other fellow acknowledges, if any.

But by all means, let's talk about it.

(…and by the way, ethology is the scientific study of animal behavior).




Thursday, August 2, 2012

The wisdom of the randomly-posted sidewalk sign


"You can't run from all your problems,
           but it will help you lose weight and evade zombies."
Sign spotted on a Facebook timeline

There are big problems and there are little problems, and the little problems really aren't problems.

Zombies are a real problem.

Evading zombies is a good thing.

Stick to real problems.


More free advice:
http://barleyliterate.blogspot.com/2012/07/the-wisdom-of-henry-ford.html

http://barleyliterate.blogspot.com/2012/06/wisdom-of-havelock-ellis.html

http://barleyliterate.blogspot.com/2012/04/wisdom-of-fred-brooks.html

http://barleyliterate.blogspot.com/2012/04/wisdom-of-rosabeth-moss-kanter.html

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Review: "The Glass Menagerie"

"The Glass Menagerie"
by Tennessee Williams (1911-1983)
Premiere performance in Chicago, 1944

This bitter story of squandered lives was Williams' first successful play. It won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award in 1945 and has been transformed for film and television. My favorite movie version is the 1987 hit with Joanne Woodward and John Malkovich.

My view is that the ironic miscarriage of the only good deed in this play almost overshadows the fiercely unremitting sadness of the lives of the Wingfields: Amanda, the mother; Laura, the daughter, and Tom, the son.

Amanda burdens her children with her querulous dissatisfactions and her selfishly revised memories of the abbreviated happiness of her youth.

Tom is beleaguered, bedeviled by his cloying mother, and he finally escapes after being punished for his good deed.

Laura collects glass animals, she collects disappointments and inadequacies, she collects yesterdays that never had any real hopes….


She casts away a fleeting waltz of swirling, genuine, furnace-hot emotions because they didn't last long enough to cease feeling so very strange to her…


"The Glass Menagerie" may seem a tiny bit less achingly poignant if you can manage to think of it as a wrenching, literate, relentless drama, and not think of it as a maelstrom of human frailty that could, all too easily, pull down real people.

Alas, the jonquils are too dreamily pathetic and altogether too believable.


More of my reviews:
http://barleyliterate.blogspot.com/2012/02/movie-review-steal-pencil-for-me.html

http://barleyliterate.blogspot.com/2012/01/wisdom-of-l-p-hartley.html

http://barleyliterate.blogspot.com/2012/01/movie-review-crazy-heart-with-jeff.html

http://barleyliterate.blogspot.com/2012/01/movie-review-tinker-tailor-soldier-spy.html

http://barleyliterate.blogspot.com/2010/03/move-review-hard-times-charles-bronson.html

http://barleyliterate.blogspot.com/2012/01/book-review-financier-by-theodore.html

http://barleyliterate.blogspot.com/2011/11/book-review-1491-by-charles-c-mann.html