Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Quote d'jour

Life is life and fun is fun
but it's all so quiet when the goldfish die.
Beryl Markham


      I am what, in some circles, is called "a Birthright Friend."
     Which means that I was born into a family that believed in the teaching of the Society of Friends - aka Quakers.
      Not that anyone in my family looked like this:

      Although there was my Great Uncle Hayes who spoke in the manner of his forebearers like:
      "How is thee today, Johnny?"
       "Would thee like to help me milk the cows."
      Which reminds me of the only time I  heard my Uncle Hayes use profanity.
      It was in the barn where my Uncle Hayes was milking his cows - a mandatory chore given the horrible suffering a cow would endure if it went un-milked for too long.
       Unable to afford the cost of an electric milking machine, my Uncle Hayes milked his cows by hand by squeezing their tits in a in a rhythmic fashion that would cause them to ejaculate mike into a bucket.
        Some cows accept the squeezing of their tits more than others.
         Fact is, some cows flat don't like any pulling or squeezing down there.
         Which is how and why some cows will try to kick either you or your bucket at milking time.
           And this particular cow had already missed Uncle Hayes once and hit his  milk bucket twice.
           So when the cow kicked Uncle Hayes' bucket a third time, he stood  up, walked around to the front of the cow and punched it between the eyes, causing the cow's knees to buckle.
            And with that, my gentle Quaker Uncle said:
            "That will teach thee, thee damnable cow!"
            Then, mortified, my Uncle Hayes turned to me and said:
            "Thee must not tell your Aunt Catherine what I just said to this cow!"


Quest for Beauty
70 Years
After Auschwitz

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Jesus Christ!

So Adam, where'd 
you get the razor?

Sic Transit Newspapers

So it happened!
But what does it mean?
                  I was 22 years old and a senior at Kent State University when the girl I was dating said she was pregnant.
          So we got married.
          Easily one of the best and worst events of my life.
          But that's another story.
          I was living with a half-dozen wanna-be actors, artists and poets in an aging, off-campus house owned by a hard-drinking widow and her unemployed lover named Eliott who pocketed our rent and drank our beer when nobody was home.
          Not sure if I wanted to be a novelist, actor, painter or psychologist, I supported myself loading an industrial-sized dish washer in a girls' dorm cafeteria - eating what the coeds didn't before scraping the rest into the roaring maw of a giant garbage disposal.
          It being February and my new wife two months along, I had to get a real job to buy groceries and pay the rent for our basement efficiency off-campus.
          Deus ex machina:
          One afternoon while drinking with the fellowship at Eddie's Stag Bar, a guy I knew from the student newspaper told me another guy was leaving the local newspaper for a better job.
           Which is how I became the only full-time reporter working for 25 cents above minimum wage at the Record-Courier -- aka as The Progressive Voice of Portage County.
            Oh yes.
            My Dad loaned me $125 to buy a badly rusted 1949 two-door Champion Studebaker with a radio that usually worked if you banged on the dashboard.
             As for t
he Norman Rockwell painting of a country newspaper?
             It feels right. 
             Although nobody wore sleeve garters while our steel desks were government surplus from the Second World War.
              The phone on my desk was a gooseneck model. With an attached headset for typing death notices phoned in by local funeral home.
              Almost forgot.
              Back some 50-plus years ago, I was told decent reporters had to include a "nut graph" -- or quotes from appropriate sources -- to  explain the pros and cons of the $2.5 million project at the city sewer plant. Including why the sewer plant mattered to folks in the city and so on.
              Of course that was several lifetimes ago when a local newspaper assigned reporters to "cover" doings at City Hall, or the County Government Building.
             Thus, in judging the news "value" of a story, (or elements likely to generate reader interest), we were taught to consider the following questions
             1. Is this Good News or Bad?
             2. Good news or bad for whom?
             3. How will the "News" impact the reader?
             4. How credible are the various sources?
             5. Is the story balanced?
             6. Is there a photograph or graphic that will 
                 "show" as well as "tell" the reader the                        facts.
             7. Are the facts interesting? (Shipping news                  versus a sinking ship) 
             8. What might be the next development?  
             Too often, aside from reprinting FAXed police reports, today's local newspapers contain a kind of "Ersatz News" that makes mockery of the print media's vaunted First Amendment rights by (A) failing to address the above basic reader-focused questions and/or (B) regurgitating what folks saw on their local TV news the night before.
               And so we find...
     In millions       1960    2014    + -
     US Population  180.7   318.9    76.5%
       Daily                58.9     40.4    (31.4%)  
       Sunday            47.7      42.7   (11.2%) 
               Although the number of newly published books (both fiction and non) continues to rise.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Thus spake Zarathustra in Paris

     In his thought-provoking "Mere Christianity," the late British theologian C.S. Lewis saw evil  as perverted good.
     Hitler, Lewis noted, truly believed in the absolute morality of his Nazi ideology -- and that the forces of the Third Reich were engaged in a battle of Good versus Evil.
     For example, throughout his speeches and writing, Hitler defined his mission as one inspired by God -- which, early on, gained him strong support from both Protestant and Roman Catholic clergy.
     Even in occupied countries like Norway*,  Austria and France, Hitler drew willing volunteers for his Werhmacht  by declaring war on  the "Godless" Communism of Stalin's Soviet Union. *Which is why volunteers from German-occupied Norway fought side-by-side with Hitler's troops in a failed invasion of Russia.

     So now we have ISIS band of "True Believers" assembled from throughout across the globe willing to sacrifice their lives in yet another version the ancient Manichean notion of Good versus Evil. 
     Of course the concept of Good v Evil exist only on Earth.
     But as for the rest of the known universe...  
     Which suggests the existence of Good v Evil is a notion created by hairless apes.
     True, my dog Charley appears to view other dogs as threats or friends.
     Often for dog specific reasons known only to him.    
     Just as a chimpanzee will quickly learn the difference the difference between a red stick used to inflict pain versus a white stick used to reach bananas beyond his normal grasp.
     Yet its doubtful the ape will view a red stick as Evil and a white one as Good.
     But ask the Televangelist Pat Robertson about the forces of Darkness and Light...
                                  *    *    *       
      Certainly among the earliest traces of this battle between Good v Evil date back  some 5,000 years ago by Zoroaster (Zarathustra), who reduced the ancient notion of numerous warring  gods into a war between two opposing forces: Ahura Mazda (Illuminating Wisdom) and Angra Mainyu (Destructive Spirit).
      Which  is what drives today's bloody jihad spawned by ISIS today.
Same as it ever was