Monday, October 31, 2011

21st century anxiety blues

Car at shop.
Variety of symptoms.
Mechanic never called...
?? -- !?
Is that ominous?
or were they just busy?
Hope car is resting comfortably.
Shared with Man In Front
diagnostic opinions of
Mechanics At (My) Work;
Man In Front seemed to be
his Facial Expression of
Being Unimpressed.
(He said, "No it's not that," --
almost --
before I'd finished talking...!?)
[What's that about?
...Territorial, I suppose...]
{Languages I speak:
Spanish (only a little)
Italian (only a little)
Karen (Very little)
Male-Automobile-Repair-Speak (Very Very little)}
Experts From Work:
"Take off the radiator cap and look in,
and see--"
"What you do is, check & see,
take off the radiator cap,
then --"
(Me: "What?")
"First, just take off the radiator
cap and see if..."
Rumble Of Authority: "Take
off the radiator cap and drive

a new car under it."


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

"...worth all they cost us..."

[Here is the rest of Franklin Roosevelt's first inaugural address, given over the radio in 1933. You can get a good feeling of it if you read it out loud.
(The words and phrases that are highlighted were emphasized by me, not FDR.) ...]

True they have tried, but their efforts have been cast in the pattern of an outworn tradition. Faced by failure of credit they have proposed only the lending of more money. Stripped of the lure of profit by which to induce our people to follow their false leadership, they have resorted to exhortations, pleading tearfully for restored confidence. They know only the rules of a generation of self-seekers. They have no vision, and when there is no vision the people perish.

The money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization. We may now restore that temple to the ancient truths. The measure of the restoration lies in the extent to which we apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit.

Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort. The joy and moral stimulation of work no longer must be forgotten in the mad chase of evanescent profits. These dark days will be worth all they cost us if they teach us that our true destiny is not to be ministered unto but to minister to ourselves and to our fellow men.

Recognition of the falsity of material wealth as the standard of success goes hand in hand with the abandonment of the false belief that public office and high political position are to be valued only by the standards of pride of place and personal profit; and there must be an end to a conduct in banking and in business which too often has given to a sacred trust the likeness of callous and selfish wrongdoing.

Small wonder that confidence languishes, for it thrives only on honesty, on honor, on the sacredness of obligations, on faithful protection, on unselfish performance; without them it cannot live.

Restoration calls, however, not for changes in ethics alone. This Nation asks for action, and action now.
Our greatest primary task is to put people to work. This is no unsolvable problem if we face it wisely and courageously. It can be accomplished in part by direct recruiting by the Government itself, treating the task as we would treat the emergency of a war, but at the same time, through this employment, accomplishing greatly needed projects to stimulate and reorganize the use of our natural resources.

Hand in hand with this we must frankly recognize the overbalance of population in our industrial centers and, by engaging on a national scale in a redistribution, endeavor to provide a better use of the land for those best fitted for the land. The task can be helped by definite efforts to raise the values of agricultural products and with this the power to purchase the output of our cities.

It can be helped by preventing realistically the tragedy of the growing loss through foreclosure of our small homes and our farms. It can be helped by insistence that the Federal, State, and local governments act forthwith on the demand that their cost be drastically reduced. It can be helped by the unifying of relief activities which today are often scattered, uneconomical, and unequal.

It can be helped by national planning for and supervision of all forms of transportation and of communications and other utilities which have a definitely public character. There are many ways in which it can be helped, but it can never be helped merely by talking about it. We must act and act quickly.

Finally, in our progress toward a resumption of work we require two safeguards against a return of the evils of the old order; there must be a strict supervision of all banking and credits and investments; there must be an end to speculation with other people's money, and there must be provision for an adequate but sound currency.

There are the lines of attack. I shall presently urge upon a new Congress in special session detailed measures for their fulfillment, and I shall seek the immediate assistance of the several States.

Through this program of action we address ourselves to putting our own national house in order and making income balance outgo. Our international trade relations, though vastly important, are in point of time and necessity secondary to the establishment of a sound national economy.

I favor as a practical policy the putting of first things first. I shall spare no effort to restore world trade by international economic readjustment, but the emergency at home cannot wait on that accomplishment.
The basic thought that guides these specific means of national recovery is not narrowly nationalistic. It is the insistence, as a first consideration, upon the interdependence of the various elements in all parts of the United States — a recognition of the old and permanently important manifestation of the American spirit of the pioneer. It is the way to recovery. It is the immediate way. It is the strongest assurance that the recovery will endure.

In the field of world policy I would dedicate this Nation to the policy of the good neighbor — the neighbor who resolutely respects himself and, because he does so, respects the rights of others — the neighbor who respects his obligations and respects the sanctity of his agreements in and with a world of neighbors.

If I read the temper of our people correctly, we now realize as we have never realized before our interdependence on each other; that we can not merely take but we must give as well; that if we are to go forward, we must move as a trained and loyal army willing to sacrifice for the good of a common discipline, because without such discipline no progress is made, no leadership becomes effective. We are, I know, ready and willing to submit our lives and property to such discipline, because it makes possible a leadership which aims at a larger good. This I propose to offer, pledging that the larger purposes will bind upon us all as a sacred obligation with a unity of duty hitherto evoked only in time of armed strife.

With this pledge taken, I assume unhesitatingly the leadership of this great army of our people dedicated to a disciplined attack upon our common problems.

Action in this image and to this end is feasible under the form of government which we have inherited from our ancestors. Our Constitution is so simple and practical that it is possible always to meet extraordinary needs by changes in emphasis and arrangement without loss of essential form. That is why our constitutional system has proved itself the most superbly enduring political mechanism the modern world has produced. It has met every stress of vast expansion of territory, of foreign wars, of bitter internal strife, of world relations.

It is to be hoped that the normal balance of executive and legislative authority may be wholly adequate to meet the unprecedented task before us. But it may be that an unprecedented demand and need for undelayed action may call for temporary departure from that normal balance of public procedure.

I am prepared under my constitutional duty to recommend the measures that a stricken nation in the midst of a stricken world may require. These measures, or such other measures as the Congress may build out of its experience and wisdom, I shall seek, within my constitutional authority, to bring to speedy adoption.

But in the event that the Congress shall fail to take one of these two courses, and in the event that the national emergency is still critical, I shall not evade the clear course of duty that will then confront me. I shall ask the Congress for the one remaining instrument to meet the crisis — broad Executive power to wage a war against the emergency, as great as the power that would be given to me if we were in fact invaded by a foreign foe.

For the trust reposed in me I will return the courage and the devotion that befit the time. I can do no less.

We face the arduous days that lie before us in the warm courage of the national unity; with the clear consciousness of seeking old and precious moral values; with the clean satisfaction that comes from the stern performance of duty by old and young alike. We aim at the assurance of a rounded and permanent national life.

We do not distrust the future of essential democracy. The people of the United States have not failed. In their need they have registered a mandate that they want direct, vigorous action. They have asked for discipline and direction under leadership. They have made me the present instrument of their wishes. In the spirit of the gift I take it.

In this dedication of a Nation we humbly ask the blessing of God. May He protect each and every one of us. May He guide me in the days to come.

Where he says,

"Finally, in our progress toward a resumption of work we require two safeguards against a return of the evils of the old order; there must be a strict supervision of all banking and credits and investments..." -- I think that's referring to what became the Glass-Steagall Act.

As I understand it, the Glass-Steagall Act was put in to keep banks from failing and becoming totally screwed up;
then they removed it -- in the late nineties -- then here we went in 2008 with another "Crash."

It's like -- hello?! Like if we got rid of the law against burglary, and then the rates of burglary went up -- people going to sleep at night and waking up on the floor 'cause someone broke in and stole their bed... And we said, Gosh, that's awful! Why did the rate of burglary go up?? That isn't very nice - !! D-uh.

And you ask yourself, if we had a law that stopped economic chaos from happening, and that worked for 65 years, and then you REMOVE the law, and in a few years you GET economic chaos, then -- WHAT WAS THE WISDOM / REASON FOR REMOVING THE LAW??!!?

Somebody benefitted.
Glass-Steagall was not removed for the public good.
It was removed for some folks to get a lot of money for as long as the people tolerate it. They only have the deal for as long as they have the deal.

I admire the sometimes majestic flow of language in this speech.
And also it's amazing to imagine the strength of that lonely courage to say, "No, we're not giving in to an economic debacle. And Yes, we are Insistent that our nation survives and thrives.

Similar to the courage and firmness and lonely-and-determined stepping forward that Winston Churchill had to do when he had to "just say no" to Hitler. (...No, you will NOT take over the world with your murderous tyranny; lo siento, Adolf.)

The flow of history, and the clashes of greed-and-hate, vs. the public good & civilization, create iconic moments; and I think each person rises to meet the moment, and the need, and to do their best, not only the ones with famous speeches. The speeches simply give us something to work with. And to be inspired by.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

rulers of the exchange

I am certain that my fellow Americans expect that on my induction into the Presidency I will address them with a candor and a decision which the present situation of our Nation impels.

This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today.

This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.

In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days.

In such a spirit on my part and on yours we face our common difficulties.

They concern, thank God, only material things.

Values have shrunken to fantastic levels; taxes have risen; our ability to pay has fallen; government of all kinds is faced by serious curtailment of income; the means of exchange are frozen in the currents of trade; the withered leaves of industrial enterprise lie on every side; farmers find no markets for their produce; the savings of many years in thousands of families are gone.

More important, a host of unemployed citizens face the grim problem of existence, and an equally great number toil with little return. Only a foolish optimist can deny the dark realities of the moment.

Yet our distress comes from no failure of substance. We are stricken by no plague of locusts. Compared with the perils which our forefathers conquered because they believed and were not afraid, we have still much to be thankful for. Nature still offers her bounty and human efforts have multiplied it. Plenty is at our doorstep, but a generous use of it languishes in the very sight of the supply.

Primarily this is because the rulers of the exchange of mankind's goods have failed, through their own stubbornness and their own incompetence, have admitted their failure, and abdicated. Practices of the unscrupulous money changers stand indicted in the court of public opinion, rejected by the hearts and minds of men.

[that's the first part of the inaugural address given by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt on Saturday, March 4,1933]

Now there's a talk with some oomph --
We are stricken by no plague of locusts!
...We have still much to be thankful for!
Frankly and boldly - !
Nor need we shrink...!
honestly facing...!
frankness and vigor!
our common difficulties... "They concern, thank God, only material things."
(!! what a sentence...!)
essential to victory
critical days
my firm belief
This great Nation
will endure
will revive
will prosper...

Practices of the unscrupulous money changers stand indicted in the court of public opinion, rejected by the hearts and minds of men.
(holy crap!)
...the only thing we have to fear is fear itself...


Monday, October 24, 2011

so how are we helping?

"If you're not part of the solution

you're part of the problem."

-- thought for the day


Friday, October 21, 2011

don't think twice, it's all right

...And I feel like when we read history, we learn ways things can be done which -- worked (!) -- you know they worked, because you can read the history, or hear it from someone who was there, & see the results after.

We can take some knowledge and wisdom from history and implement it, so we're not always constantly trying to "reinvent the wheel."
(When I worked as a lobbyist, our state legislators used that phrase sometimes: ideas get brought up in the form of bills being sponsored, sometimes, by someone who's new to the legislature -- someone with more experience would point out that this idea has been brought up before, & here's what happened -- or the idea was brought up before and passed, and then here's what happened. And then say, "We don't need to spend time trying to reinvent the wheel, here."

[Then after the voters passed Term Limits, we had such a high percentage of newly-elected people all the time, the institutional knowledge was gutted and legislators in general had no concept of 'reinvent the wheel' and they'd run around reinventing all the time, it seemed -- getting "ticked," talking louder to seem more right -- reinventing the wheel so much that after a while they seemed to be simply "spinning their wheels"...all term limits does is lift power from the legislative body and distribute it between the executive branch and the bureaucracy.])

A guy I used to know said to me once, "Why would I want to read history? That happened already, it's over."
Some might say, "Past is past; I'm only interested in the future!"
People talk about the future,
predict the future,
make plans / promises for the Future,
and they're all full of baloney.
The "Future" is blue sky.

Like in the 90s when nafta - cafta was gearing up. "The lower-paying, plain regular jobs are going to be sent overseas, while here in America, we're going to be highly-paid knowledge workers." (I'm serious, I know I heard that phrase "knowledge workers" -- maybe on CNBC -- and it sounded kind of silly and more importantly unconvincing, even to me, Not An Economist.) ...

Artists for some reason usually portray stuff in "the future" in a depressing light -- movies, books about the "future" -- I don't reademorwatchem -- too scary.

Meanwhile some business dudes (masters of the universe) and their selected economists will sometimes portray "the future" in happy, optimistic, glowing terms ("knowledge workers"!!) -- in order to sell the public on new arrangements which will be good for them and bad for us.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

doing my thing

"Why aren't you a history teacher?" my hairstylist asked me a couple of weeks ago, as I sat in her chair, showing her pictures (in a book) of Lyndon Johnson, John Kennedy, and Richard Nixon, & telling her stuff about them.
Why aren't I a history teacher?
Same reason I am not a professional ice skater, or waitress, or boat salesperson. I never aimed for those things.

At Boston University my minor was American History (major, English literature).
Why did I not select Teaching as a career?
Didn't want to, at the time.
Maybe I have more tendencies now, in conversation, that the listener sometimes takes to be "teaching" which I only consider to be sharing something kind of cool and interesting. Just offering / sharing thoughts and how I mean it. Intend it.

Come to think of it, I've been "accused" of teaching, at work, by people who didn't want to "learn stuff" during their break:
"Go away!" ...

It made me think, and consider: when I graduated with a B.A. (bachelor of arts), I had been in school for 17 of the 22 years I'd been alive -- K-12 plus four years at B.U. The school-experience was generally good, for me: I couldn't be categorized as a girl who "didn't like school," yet some of it was boredom -- waiting for things to be over -- and I wanted to be out-on-my-own, go-go-go, out in the "real world," whatever that is.

(One could make the argument, some days, that the real world is overrated. Like the old story where John Kennedy was campaigning for congress (house or senate) in Massachusetts -- standing at the factory gates shaking hands with workers as they went in, in the early morning, one man was overheard to challenge the candidate from the wealthy family -- "I hear you never worked a day in your life!" While Kennedy took a few seconds to select an answer the guy followed up with, "Let me tell you, y' haven't missed a thing." lol )

Real world. Yeah.
I thought of law school, only briefly.
("Do I want to be in school for three more years?"
At that point, I didn't.
And -- "Does the world need another lawyer?")
I took the LSAT. (There you are, back in a room, taking a test with a bunch of other kids. Or rather, grown-ups. Sort of. Barely.)
And my LSAT score was good enough that I could have got into law school.

I can vaguely remember the mixed feeling of --
I did well enough on the test -- Success; and
at the same time -- I don't want to go to law school right now. Or ever.
Moving toward realizing what you want,
by learning what you don't want.

I wanted to -- work. To go out into the world and do a good job, get money, and accomplish something and find some type of success.
(My optimism and positive-thinking and general excitement was "running amok," I think...!)

And what I wanted to do, since I was about 8, maybe, was "be a writer."
And then, in adult life, it was like -- 'I can sit down and write books after I make enough money. Later. Sometime. Maybe.' And -- 'it's too hard to find success in that area, too many people doing it, too much rejection.'

I sort of allowed myself to be intimidated away from What I Really Wanted To Do.
Now that I am eight hundred and fourteen years old, I see, and feel inside of myself, that that was bullshit.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Yesterday a man named Mark sent this Comment in to the New York Times:

---------------I don't think we would have seen these protests if heads had rolled in the financial community, and if we had seen criminal investigations and jail sentences. Instead we saw golden parachutes and record high bonuses. We MUST get back to creating wealth by creating a product. Will someone explain to me in simple English why hedge funds managers who make astronomical salaries are Good for America? I am not saying hedge funds are bad, but please tell me (since we seem to have so many of them now) why is this good for America?----------------[end quote]

(Boy, I'd be the last person with an answer to that question, but I know a Good Question when I see one...)

Remember when the pooper-scooper law was first passed in New York City in the 80s? It provided fodder for late-night comedians and other jokesters and commentators -- Paul Harvey had a field day -- oh! did he have fun with that!

(Think probably most major cities have that law, now: funny to think of, or not, it does make sense where you have concentrated population -- people go out and walk their dogs -- you CAN end up with too many dogly "calling cards" around...)

In the Stephanie Plum novel Hot Six, author Janet Evanovich riffs on the pooper-scooper law Phenomenon. Showcased here are two excerpts: the pooper-scooper sequence is in the second excerpt; we need the Excerpt 1 to introduce characters Mitchell and Habib.
(Hah - BEEB.
Ah yes. Just so.)

[excerpt 1 -- setting: Trenton, New Jersey]------------ I left Moon to his retrospective and had my fingers wrapped around the door handle of my car when a black Lincoln pulled alongside me.
The passenger-side window rolled down and a man looked out. "You Stephanie Plum?"
"We'd like to have a little chat with you. Get in."

Yeah, right. I'm going to get into the Mafia staff car with two strange men, one of whom is a Pakistani with a .38 tucked into his Sansabelt pants...and the other is a guy who looks like Hulk Hogan with a buzz cut. "My mother told me never to ride with strangers."

"We aren't so strange," Hulk said. "We're just your average couple of guys. Isn't that right, Habib?"
"That is just so," Habib said, inclining his head in my direction and smiling, showing a gold tooth. "We are most average in every way."
"What do you want?" I asked.
The guy in the passenger seat gave a big sigh. "You're not gonna get in the car, are you?"
"Okay, here's the deal. We're looking for a friend of yours. Only maybe he's not a friend anymore. Maybe you're looking for him, too."

"So we thought we could work together. You know, be a team."
"I don't think so."
"Well, then, we're just gonna have to follow you around. We thought we should tell you so you don't get, you know, alarmed when you see us tailing you."

"Who are you?"
"That's Habib over there behind the wheel. And I'm Mitchell."
"No. I mean, who are you? Who do you work for?" I was pretty sure I already knew the answer, but I thought it was worth asking anyway.

"We'd rather not divulge our employer's name," Mitchell said. "It don't matter to you anyway. What you want to remember is that you don't cut us out of anything, because then we'd be annoyed."

"Yes, and it is not good when we become annoyed," Habib said, wagging his finger. "We are not to be taken lightly. Is that not so?" he asked, looking to Mitchell for approval. "In fact, if you annoy us we will spread your entrails across an entire parking space of my cousin Muhammad's 7-Eleven parking lot."

"What are you, nuts?" Mitchell said. "We don't do no entrails shit. And if we did, it wouldn't be in front of the 7-Eleven. I go there for my Sunday paper."
"Oh," Habib said.
----------------------- [end Excerpt 1]

-----------------------[Excerpt 2]: I wanted to check on Hannibal's town house, but I didn't want to drag Mitchell and Habib over with me.
"I need a diversion," I said to Lula. "I need to get rid of those guys in the carpet car."

"Do you mean you want to get rid of them? Or do you mean you don't want them following you?"
"I don't want them following me."
...Vinnie stuck his head out of his office. "How about the burning bag thing?"

We swiveled our heads in his direction.
"Usually you do it as a gag on somebody's front porch," Vinnie said. "You put some dog shit in a bag. Then you put the bag on the sucker's front porch and ring the bell. Then you set the bag on fire and run like hell. When the mark opens the door he sees the bag burning and stomps on it to put it out."
"And then he get dog shit all over his shoe," Vinnie said. "If you did it to these guys and they got dog shit all over their shoes they'd be distracted, and you could drive away."

Lula said..."Only thing is, we need some dog poop."
Connie took a brown paper lunch bag from her bottom drawer. "I've got a bag and you can use the empty chicken bucket as a pooper-scooper."

The park was only two blocks away, so we walked Bob to the park and stood around waiting for him to answer nature's call. Only nature asn't calling Bob's name.

"You ever notice how when you don't want dog poop it just seems to be everywhere?" Lula said. "And now when we want some..." Her eyes opened wide.

"Hold the phone. Dog at twelve o'clock. And it's a big one."
...The dog was big and black. The old woman at the other end of the leash was small and white. ...

The dog suddenly stopped walking and hunched over, and Lula and Bob and I took off across the grass. I had Bob on the leash, and Lula was waving the chicken bucket and paper bag, and we were running full tilt when the woman looked up and saw us. The color drained from her face, and she staggered backward.

"I'm old," she said. "I haven't got any money. Go away. Don't hurt me."
"We don't want your money," Lula said. "We want your poop."
The woman choked up on the dog's leash. "You can't have the poop. I have to take the poop home. It's the law."

"The law don't say you gotta take it home," Lula said. "It's just somebody gotta do it. And we're volunteering."

"I don't know if that's right," the woman said. "I never heard of that. I think I'm supposed to take the poop home."

"Okay," Lula said, "we'll pay you for the poop." Lula looked over at me. "Give her a couple bucks for her poop."
I searched my pockets. "I don't have any money on me. I didn't bring my purse."
"I won't take any less than five dollars," the woman said.
------------------------ [end Excerpt]
They scoop up the stuff & take off back for the office -- the lady is going, "Help! They're taking my poop! Stop! Thief!"


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

reform, please-and-thank-you

Last week someone wrote this about the "Occupy Wall Street" movement:
---------------- [quote]
They have something happening in New York City called

"Occupy Wall Street."


It's supposed to be a protest.
It's in a park.

Reading a little on the internet --
it doesn't sound like a real thing,
to me.
------------------------[end quote]
Who would write something so silly and off-base?
Oops, it was me.
(I didn't know...)

Reading about this movement, they're just talking about the same things we've all been talking of and wondering about, recent years --

I think a list of items to change is this:

reinstate the Fairness Doctrine
put the Glass-Steagall Act back in
cap run-away health care costs
infrastructure (build; do not allow to rot)
repeal "citizens united" Supreme Court decision (made legal for corps to bribe pols)
campaign finance reform
(and I add) civility -- no one talks about that except Pres. Obama (in his book) and me. That's OK ...

That's only 7.
And the only thing on that whole list that's new is campaign finance reform -- the other six are just -- put it back, put it back, put it back; do what works.

Even campaign finance reform isn't really new; John McCain rode that horse clear across the range, for decades.

It seems like it is a question of saving our democracy.

And when I look at the list, it isn't even "change" -- which can be difficult. It's only putting stuff back. That's EASY!

Like if some teenagers played in your living room and knocked stuff over and messed things up -- you could pick it up and put it back -- you know where everything goes.

OK, nation's economic problems solved -- now, what's for dinner? -- Salad!


Monday, October 17, 2011


I went into a restaurant
Lookin' for the cook
I told them I was the editor
Of a famous etiquette book
The waitress he was handsome
He wore a powder blue cape
I ordered some suzette, I said
"Could you please make that crepe"
Just then the whole kitchen exploded
From boilin' fat
Food was flying everywhere
And I left without my hat...
[from "Bob Dylan's 115th Dream," on the album, Bringing It All Back Home,
March 1965, Columbia Records]

...A stanza which describes -- or celebrates -- some challenging moments in life.


Friday, October 14, 2011

don't know why...

"I like you, I don't know why."
A Mexican woman told me that, once -- in her little voice with the little accent.
(Like -- right, why would anyone like me??!
But I knew what she meant.)

I like names, and I don't know why...
NAMES, names, names
When I was in elementary school I sometimes made lists of first names.
The pleasure and organized-feeling of writing them.

A woman I work with feels strongly that a person should not have two first names. Like -- if their last name is more often heard as a first name.
(I think she told me once that she turned down a date with a guy because his last name was a first name.)

Married couples whose first names are the masculine - feminine variation on each other:
I've known a Robert and Roberta,
a Michael and Michelle,
a Chris and Christy...
even a Leslie and Leslie! --
What does it all mean?? Nothing! -- but cannot help noticing.

(When you think of creating the feminine version of a man's name -- a friend of mine named Rodney used to say that he wanted his first granddaughter to be named

Tina Brown wrote an article for Vanity Fair in the 80s, reporting on the royal marriage (Prince Charles and Princess Diana) -- in the book, The Diana Chronicles, she recalls:

------------- {excerpt} Two days after "The Mouse That Roared" hit the newsstands, I was woken up in New York by the gravelly voice of a Daily Mail reporter called Rod. (All reporters at the Mail, it seemed, were called Rod at the time.) "Is that 'Urricane Tina?" said the voice...You've certainly caused a ruckus over here."...{end excerpt}------------------

Once I met someone whose last name was Kuhl. Pronounced "Cool."
My NAME is COOL. (oooooh. yeah)
People named Kuhl ("Cool")
People named Hott
Someone named Church
Scarlett O'Hara (the perfect name for the character!)
Addison DeWitt (a witty, sardonic character in All About Eve, masterfully played by actor George Sanders)
Mr. Butt -- and there is where you draw the line. If one's name was actually Butt, one would go on down and get it changed -- to Smith, to Jones, to Bozotheclown, anything other than "Butt" -- that's why God invented courthouses.

Channing. It is the perfect show-business name. And the only two people I can think of whose last name is Channing are in show business: one real, one fictional. The real one is Carol Channing -- (she used to sing, "Diamonds are a girl's best friend,") and "Margo Channing," the main character in the film All About Eve, played by Bette Davis:
"All playwrights should be dead for three hundred years!"
"Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy night."
Margo Channing. Carol Channing.
Channing, Channing, Channing,
Jacqueline Kennedy's maiden name.
It means "cow-herd."
In French.

Calling him names. Say my name. What's in a name?
"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."
-- Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)

Styles Bridges was the name of a U.S. senator who served with Lyndon Johnson back in the 50s. His name was noted in a Johnson biography I was reading and typing from earlier this week. Looking up Styles Bridges on the internet, turned out his first name was actually Henry, but he was apparently one of those people who is called, and known, by his middle name instead of the first.

And the two names are both words, as well as being names:
like -- styles. The new fall styles.
and bridges. Of Madison County. Over troubled water. Whatever.
a U.S. senator named Styles Bridges.
"A Boy Named Sue," written by Shel Silverstein: ("My name is Sue! How do you do?!")

In Ohio many of my Snow ancestors were teachers, in the local country schools, through the 1800s. One year in the school district there were three teachers, Mr. Snow, Mr. Freese, and Mr. Frost.
Significance in The World? None, whatsoever. Yet somehow you want to write it down, and / or do hand-stands. ...


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Think fast, Mr. Moto

They have something happening in New York City called

"Occupy Wall Street."


It's supposed to be a protest.
It's in a park.

Reading a little on the internet --
it doesn't sound like a real thing,
to me.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

hear ya, Ike

Yesterday when I was typing on my blog a passage from a Lyndon Johnson biography, my favorite sentence was when Pres. Eisenhower wrote, "in a note to a friend" about a difficult senator:

"It is a pity that his wisdom, his judgment, his tact, and his sense of humor lag so far behind his ambition."

That speaks toward a phenomenon I've occasionally noticed and tried to analyze and understand, but I get lost. Can't find the path-to-logic, or the right words.

But I know what he's talking about.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011


In an e-mail I received, it said,

"Another comment about LBJ: When Dwight Eisenhower left office he complimented Democrat Lyndon Johnson for working in a bipartisan manner to helping Ike get legislation passed that was good for the country. A Republican sincerely praising a Democrat; can you believe it...? Now the world is turned upside down!"

Reading that e-mail made me think of the following passage from Robert Dallek's first Lyndon Johnson book, Lone Star Rising.
As I read this
(from Chapter 13, "Bipartisan Politics")
certain words or phrases seemed to stand out, to me:
in the service of the nation
sense of humor
{excerpt}------ Domestic affairs was a less promising arena for Johnson's bipartisan strategy. As George Reedy observed, "Eisenhower was an economic conservative and, on domestic legislation, his heart belonged to the moderate right wing of the Republican party." With the exception of a Labor Secretary who had been head of the plumbers' union, the President principally appointed conservative businessmen to his Cabinet, including three men tied to the automobile industry. The New Republic described the Cabinet as "Eight millionaires and a plumber," and Adlai Stevenson complained that "the New Dealers have all left Washington to make way for the car dealers."

Yet even on domestic issues, Johnson made it seem that the President and the Senate Democrats were joined in a struggle against reactionary Republicans. Johnson held "Democratic" legislation to a minimum, and turned Eisenhower's bills into "New Deal-ish" laws with amendments spawned by the Democratic Policy Committee. By leaving Eisenhower's stamp on the bill, Johnson accurately calculated that the President wouldn't intervene in the Senate debate or veto the measure. "It also meant," Reedy says, "that the Senate Democrats were pitted solely against Senate Republicans and, as the Democrats were fighting only for amendments, the picture before the public was that of a Republican president and a Democratic Senate cooperating in the service of the nation while a small group of GOP partisans were trying to throw sand in the gears."

The shift in Republican Senate leadership from Taft to Knowland in 1953 partly made this possible. Taft himself was unsympathetic to much of what Eisenhower proposed at the start of his term. When the President told Taft at a White House meeting in April that his first budget would be $5.5 million in the red, the Senator pounded his fist on the Cabinet table and shouted: "With a program like this, we'll never elect a Republican Congress in 1954. You're taking us down the same road Truman traveled. It's a repudiation of everything we promised in the campaign."

Knowland was even more of a problem. Former governor of New Hampshire Sherman Adams, who had become "Assistant to the President," said, "It would have been difficult to find anyone more disposed to do battle with much of the President's program in Congress" than Knowland. In addition to being so conservative, he was also inept. In the view of one Democratic senator, Knowland "possessed little skill or finesse" for the Majority leader's job. "The blustery Knowland was a man of principle, to the point of bullheadedness. So often did he cross paths with his president's program, that Dwight Eisenhower soon found he could work more comfortably with the Senate's Democratic leader than with the Republican Knowland."

In a note to a friend, Eisenhower himself said of Knowland: "It is a pity that his wisdom, his judgment, his tact, and his sense of humor lag so far behind his ambition."

As time passed, Eisenhower became even more critical of him: "In his case," the President confided to his diary, "there seems to be no final answer to the question 'How stupid can you get?'"

Republican senator Styles Bridges of New Hampshire once told Johnson, "Don't think you can pull the wool over my eyes the way you do with Bill Knowland."

In the summer of 1953, after Congress adjourned, Lyndon publicly emphasized that the President's real friends on domestic legislation were the Democrats. He described the session as "a shakedown cruise" and said that its principal bills were extensions of New Deal--Fair Deal measures: the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act -- "the monument to the great Democratic statesman, Cordell Hull" -- was extended for a year; a grant of authority to reorganize executive agencies was "the same authority granted to predecessor Presidents"; and the excess profits tax represented a six-month extension of an existing law.

Yet "a majority of the basic issues" had been put off until the next session with the agreement of the President. Johnson described the outstanding feature of the first session as the responsibility displayed by the minority Members of both Houses. "The great majority of the President's program was put through only because of Democratic support." Most of the opposition came from "the ranks of his own party."

The Democrats had "acted upon the conviction that the future of the Nation was far too important to be jeopardized for the sake of a narrow partisan gain."

And "through a strict adherence to the politics of responsibility, the Democrats achieved almost unprecedented heights of unity during this session." Johnson's Democratic colleagues agreed with him. As Time reporter John L. Steele told his New York office, "Congress ended on the sweet note of unity. Everyone loved everyone else."
----[end excerpt]
[From Lone Star Rising: Lyndon Johnson and his Times, 1908 - 1960.
Robert Dallek. Copyright, 1991. Oxford University
Press. New York.]


Monday, October 10, 2011


[excerpt]--------- give special emphasis to a slide show at the museum that had a voiceover by the famed French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson:

"I love life....I love human beings. I hate people also...I enjoy shooting a picture, being present. It's a way of saying, 'Yes! Yes! Yes!'...And there's no maybe."

Photography helped Cartier-Bresson overcome his shyness by his engagement with the subject of the picture. ...

{Reading Jackie, by William Kuhn}


Friday, October 7, 2011

the stormy present

Each person who gets elected to Congress,
all the members of the House, and
all the members of the Senate,
the framework of their public service will be this:

each year they're in,
10 months of that year are spent working in Washington and going back to their home state, like what they presently do.

The other two months of their year are spent in an "exchange" with a working person somewhere in America, not in the legislator's home state.

For those two months the senator does the job of the working person and earns that person's amount of money.
The working person sits in for the senator in Washington, and makes his amount of money, for the two months.

Each legislator's two-month "tour" would be staggered so that all year around Congress would be made up of -- mostly elected legislators, but there would be some private citizens sitting in too.

(I have to get someone who is good at math to figure out how many legislators could be out "in exchange" for which time periods...I know something needs to be figured out, & I don't know how to do it.)

With the 10 months & two months, guess I didn't build in Vacation time.
(They can work it into the 10-month period. And -- what they do, as a legislator, is a vacation -- it is an honor and privilege to serve in Congress.

I contend:
1. It should also be an honor and a privilege to spend two months every year literally experiencing what many citizens in our country experience. It would be exponentially educational. People who think they are too fabulous to do that would spare us their megalomaniacal presence in our government and go to Hollywood or murdoch-media (really the same thing) instead.

and 2. They will have time to vacation in Bermuda after they are finished serving in Congress.

Abraham Lincoln said this:
"The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.”


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

two strong men

Came across another "saying," or line that have heard many times and didn't know the rest of it and -- guess the author?! -- Rudyard Kipling, again!
(Seems like everything I remember this week comes from that guy...!

Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,
Till Earth and Sky stand presently, at God's great Judgment Seat;
but there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
When two strong men stand face to face, tho' they come from the ends of the earth!
[The Ballad of East and West, by Rudyard Kipling.]

--------------------Those lines begin the "ballad" -- and end it, too.

The only part I remembered was that first line -- heard it somewhere, and somewhere else -- some people apply it, like a common saying, to various situations...


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

stay hungry

In the short story I was studying / celebrating last week, you can just wrap yourself in the majesty and music of the author's phrases, and telling-style.

[excerpts from Rudyard Kipling's Rikki-Tikki-Tavi]

He was a mongoose, rather like a little cat in his fur and his tail, but quite like a weasel in his head and his habits. His eyes and the end of his restless nose were pink; he could scratch himself anywhere he pleased, with any leg, front or back, that he chose to use; he could fluff up his tail till it looked like a bottle-brush, and his war-cry, as he scuttled through the long grass, was: ``Rikk-tikk-tikki-tikki-tchk!''

One day, a high summer flood washed him out of the burrow where he lived with his father and mother, and carried him, kicking and clucking, down a roadside ditch. He found a little wisp of grass floating there, and clung to it till he lost his senses. When he revived, he was lying in the hot sun on the middle of a garden path, very draggled indeed ...

It is the hardest thing in the world to frighten a mongoose, because he is eaten up from nose to tail with curiosity. The motto of all the mongoose family is ``Run and find out''; and Rikki-tikki was a true mongoose.

…They gave him a little piece of raw meat. Rikki-tikki liked it immensely, and when it was finished he went out onto the verandah and sat in the sunshine and fluffed up his fur to make it dry to the roots. Then he felt better.


...he thought he could just catch the faintest scratch-scratch in the world, -- a noise as faint as that of a wasp walking on a window-pane, -- the dry scratch of a snake's scales on brick-work.

...Angry as he was, Rikki-tikki was very frightened as he saw the size of the big cobra. Nag coiled himself up, raised his head, and looked into the bath-room in the dark, and Rikki could see his eyes glitter.

"...I shall wait here in the cool till daytime.''

Nag coiled himself down, coil by coil, round the bulge at the bottom of the water-jar. [shiver]

When morning came he was very stiff, but well pleased with his doings.
[at the end of the story when he has won the battle with the evil, mean snakes]:

Rikki-tikki had a right to be proud of himself; but he did not grow too proud, and he kept that garden as a mongoose should keep it, with tooth and jump and spring and bit...

Where it says that he "had a right to be proud of himself; but he did not grow too proud..." it echoes the Kipling poem "If" and it's kind of like a T-shirt they have in one dept. where I work: it reads, "Stay hungry, stay humble."

----------------- [from "Rikki-Tikki]:
...he danced up to Karait with the peculiar rocking, swaying motion that he had inherited from his family. It looks very funny, but it is so perfectly balanced a gait that you can fly off from it at any angle you please; and in dealing with snakes this is an advantage. If Rikki-tikki had only known, he was doing a much more dangerous thing that fighting Nag, for Karait is so small, and can turn so quickly...
------------------ [stop excerpt]

Rikki-Tikki-Tavi also "stays hungry," come to think about it:
"That bite paralysed Karait, and Rikki-tikki was just going to eat him up from the tail, after the custom of his family at dinner, when he remembered that a full meal makes a slow mongoose, and if he wanted all his strength and quickness ready, he must keep himself thin."


Monday, October 3, 2011


Last time writing on this blog, was honoring the story-telling of Rudyard Kipling. He lived from 1865 to 1936. English --
so much lasting, quality literature came out of England. Rudyard Kipling; Jane Austen; Sir Arthur Conan Doyle -- songwriting (The Beatles, the Stones...).
England and America: we contribute a lot of art and culture to the world.

When we first started hearing about Muslim problems in the world -- Ayatollah Khomeini, and the subsequent delinquents -- when problems exploding out of that part of the world in the form of bizarre and (it seemed) sort of mindless hostility and destructionism (?) -- I used to think, Those people don't do anything. They don't contribute any art or culture -- anything to bring people up. They just kill other people and each other and make up dumb rules to justify bullying and cruel behavior. I used to think, the wealth they have is just from oil, and they didn't earn or create that. They just Have it. (Like the guy who doesn't know how to make money, but darn well knows how to inherit it...)

I mean, what do they contribute that's positive??

They can be creative, though. Before 911, (some time between 1997 and 2001, I'm going to estimate) the Chamber of commerce in the community where I live had an event and the Entertainment was a middle-eastern comedian.

(First time any of us, probably, had seen that -- certainly the first time, in person...) [I wondered What is this guy going to joke about??] -- Well, his own culture, that's what.

He wore a suit (not robes or anything like that), and talked and story-told and riffed on middle eastern rage and he would punctuate his monologue with the phrase "Holy war!!" And when he said those words, he didn't really say them, he would throw his head back and sort of shriek / wail heavenward, "Holy war!!!!"

I think at first we were a little afraid to laugh because it seemed like he was joking about something very serious and scary, and also it seemed "incorrect," like you're being intolerant, laughing at their "culture."

But the guy was hilarious, and everyone ended up laughing. (As I said before, the World Trade Center towers were still -- up. So it was a bit of a different "era.")

He would go, with exaggerated middle-east accent and wild emphasis,
"Your tribe is different from my tribe! We cannot tolerate you -- HOLY - WAR!" (Sort of howling / shrieking the words holy war...)
And --
"The economy is bad, food is too expensive -- HOLY - WAR!!"
"Traffic in our city is too congested -- HOLY - WAR!!"
"The dry cleaner ruined my coat -- HOLY - WAR!!"

And he had little stories and build-ups in between that made it very good -- this is only the gist.

He was funny -- and I thought about him a few days after September 11th, in 2001 -- sitting at my desk in my home office, it struck me: that guy is going to have to write a whole new act, because "holy war" isn't going to be funny -- for a while.

Thinking of that made me recall another joke from that era. Sometime in 2002, I think someone told me this one: a terrorist, Achmed something, was planning a big explosion, tied a bomb to his body, and he had been inspired by the people who trained him: they said he would be greeted, upon reaching heaven, by three virgins.

Ahh. So he carries out the bombing and arrives in Heaven and first thing you know, he meets George Washington. Soon, into the room comes Thomas Jefferson, and a minute after that, James Madison.

So Achmed is standing here with Madison, Jefferson, and Washington, and he realizes he's meeting historical figures, but he's really more interested in -- Where Are The Virgins?!

But pretty soon they have to explain to Achmed, he misunderstood -- it was three Virginians who were greeting him after his death . ...
(People in Roanoke think that's very funny...)