A Series Of Images And Quotes

A woman as the Magdalen writing at a table in an interior, by Unknown

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Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.

George Orwell (1946)

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Adversity is not without it’s Comfort and Hopes, by Edith Mahier

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I had an interesting day’s reading yesterday, with the sudden sensaton of being in close contact with what I was reading. […] But as for reading how curious it is: all these books, their lore of the ages, waiting to be embraced but usually slipping out of one’s nerveless hands on to the floor. When one reads properly it is as if a third person is present.

E.M. Forster (1957)

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The Roman Architect, by Lawrence Alma-Tameda

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The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.

Bertrand Russell (1933)

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That’s it from here, America. G’night.

If You Can Call It That

Pic of the day:  Hermit Saints Triptych, by Hieronymus Bosch

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The tongues of mocking wenches are as keen
As is the razor’s edge invisible,
Cutting a smaller hair than may be seen
Above the sense of sense; so sensible
Seemeth their conference; their conceits have wings
Fleeter than arrows, bullets, wind, thought, swifter things.

William Shakespeare, Love’s Labour’s Lost, Act V, scene ii

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The Fiscal cliff will not destroy America, or it’s economy.  It is an austerity plan meant to be so austere (as I see it) to scare both sides to a more sane and rational fiscal plan.  And even if it does not pass immediately the most horrible things that are spoken of, all the damage to the GDP and unemployment and the like, will not come to pass simply because there is no bill passed to stand against the harshest effects of all that austerity.

The Milk cliff is not a cliff at all.  All it is, is the lack of passing of a bill meant to hold off the effects of a bill passed in 1949 that would double milk prices paid by the government.  When it is passed, late or on time, all will be fine.  Even if it takes some time to pass it will take time for any changes to the prices to take effect.  And there is no guarantee that prices would double even if changes would take effect.  Milk futures are not that high, and the market would not bear a doubling in milk prices.

These things do need to be worked on, and with haste, but if things are not passed to fix these things immediately the world will not end.

With all that said, I  hope they get something done before January 1, just to get it done. Something needs to be done to  save those who would be impacted immediately, like those who are already on extended unemployment benefits, who will lose that last financial lifeline come January 1st.

So it was somewhat disconcerting watching the house work today, if you can call it that.  I turned it on a few minutes after the session started.  This was 2:05 pm, and the session had started at 2:00 pm. I was thinking that the session was going to last quite a while, having much work to do.  Fiscal cliff.  Milk Cliff.  Probably a few other cliffs were there that we were going to jump off of if things didn’t get done in a week. Or so I thought.

I played idly with my 7 inch tablet.  I think I played a  few minutes worth of pinball or some gem game or something.  I thought I would have time to see them work on something.  I listened with half an ear to Steny Hoyer talkk about the work that had to be done.  I was thinking “Give’em hell Steny!”

And then after Steny finished his speech, I listened to a woman speak, I know not who she was, but I presume she was  some non elected official say something.  I do not remember exactly what she said, but I thought I heard her say something about senate business and mentioned Monday.  I found that curious.  So I stopped playing my game.  I got up and turned my attention to the television, to C-Span.  The chair, the man at the head of the house this day, an Ohio rep by the name of Steve LaTourette said something that caught me completely off guard.

He said something like this:  The house will  now adjourn pursuant to a previous special order, and the next meeting is scheduled for Monday December 31st at 2:00 pm.

My jaw hit the floor.  I looked at the TV with incredulity.  I spoke to the TV, and to congress “Ten minutes? That’s all?  That’s all your gonna give us, with a week left on this?  Are you serious?”

I am not amused.  The Republican house could have at least made it look like they were going to work on this.  On something.  Put some kind of effort in.  Pretend they give a shit at the very least.  I know that if these bills don’t pass the world won’t end, but dammit, it IS important.

The Republicans could’ve at least try to make it look like they cared.

But they didn’t.

Because they don’t.

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That’s it from here, America.  G’night.

A Single Thought

Pic of the day:  Peasant woman eating, by Vincent Van Gogh

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One wonders whether a generation that demands instant satisfaction of all its needs and instant solution of the world’s problems, to say the least will produce anything of lasting value. Such a generation, even when equipped with the most modern technology, will be essentially primitive — it will stand in awe of nature, and submit to the tutelage of medicine men.

Eric Hoffer, Reflections on the Human Condition (1973)

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Just a single thought tonight, as I get ready to call it a night, as I begin to prepare to celebrate Christmas eve.

There are millions across the globe who will go to bed hungry tonight.  13% of the worlds population is under-nourished.

Be thankful you have what you do.

Enjoy your Christmas Eve.

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That’s it from here, America.  G’night.

When He Said

Pic of the day: Evacuation of an Island, by Victor Hugo (1870)

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I don’t know whether this world has a meaning that transcends it. But I know that I cannot know that meaning and that it is impossible for me just now to know it. What can a meaning outside my condition mean to me? I can understand only in human terms.

Albert Camus

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When he said “do not lose heart,” I wanted to respond to him myself, tell him I hadn’t, but there were parents that would never have the same heart again. Then again I knew he wasn’t really talking to me.

When he said “I come to offer the love and prayers of a nation” I thanked him. My prayers, little though they are worth were offered up for both the dead and the survivors from the moment I heard about this. I know I am far from the only one.

When he said “The school’s staff did not flinch” I felt a swell of pride in such strong character shown by the people teaching the leaders of tomorrow. They, and those like them are making future generations better simply with their presence.

When he said “We, as a nation, we are left with some hard questions” I was pleased. Even if he didn’t ask all the hard questions there, he had made it plain with that statement that he, along with the rest of us, was looking for those answers to those questions.

He asked one of the hard questions a moment later, and while leaving out important political context that was not necessary at that moment, also gave an answer. Shortened version of the question : Are we doing enough to protect our children as a society?

Answer: No.

When he said “No set of laws can eliminate evil from the world” He was telling the world in only slightly veiled language, that he is ready to fight this fight. That this fight is a murky one, involving gun laws and mental health legislation and a host of other issues, but a fight that he is ready to fight and will pour all his available energy into, to safeguard this nations children, who are it’s future.

When he read the names of the children who died I had to turn away. I felt the welling up of the emotion of loss. They were not my children. I have none, sadly, but I felt the sting of the bitter loss that death brings. The parents who lost kids, the spouses who lost loved ones, must hurt , must feel a pain a thousand times stronger and more virulent than any I have felt. I think I felt that emotional upwelling for them as well as those who died.

As he left the stage, I was happy to have heard him speak. But it leaves me wondering, now that the speeches are over with, what will happen now? We have all heard speeches before. Will more come of this than just words of comfort. I hope so, for the whole nations sake.

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That’s it from here, America G’night.

Two Hundred Eighteen Words

Pic of the day:  Head of a Peasant Girl, by Kazimir Malevich

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Knowledge and Wisdom, far from being one,
Have oft-times no connexion, Knowledge dwells
in heads replete with thoughts of other men,
Wisdom in minds attentive to their own.

William Cowper, The Task (1785)

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Viddy of the day:  Plato’s Cave (animated version) circa 1973, narrated by Orson Welles.

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There are a great many better people than I who have written on the subject of the horrors that befell the poor people of Connecticut on Friday morning.

There are also a great many better people who have written on guns and gun control, and mental illness, and what can be done to make ourselves safer.

I know not what to do or think to be honest.

Mute horror can be the only reaction.

There are times that insanity cannot be helped or stopped, no matter how hard we try.

Gun control, as much as it may help in some way, will not bring the dead back to life.

Nothing will.

And that powerlessness is the problem.

Everything that we are as humans screams to be able to do what we cannot.

To save those who were lost.

To fix that which cannot be fixed.

So we sit, and ask why,

And find no answer.

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That’s it from here, America. G’night

Somewhat Interconnected

Pic of the day:  Correspondence Cinema, France in the XXI Century

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There was a good reason for removing that motto; there was, indeed, an unassailably good reason — in the fact that the motto stated a lie. If this nation has ever trusted in God, that time has gone by; for nearly half a century almost its entire trust has been in the Republican party and the dollar–mainly the dollar.

Mark Twain, Speaking about the removal of the words “In God We Trust” from coins

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You can’t live in the past, it’s already been lived.  But it s a comfortable place to visit while living in the present.  And you need a comfortable place to visit if you live in this world.  As the world becomes more advanced it becomes more impersonal, and you need a less impersonal place to go and just be a human being.

– – – – – – – – – – – –

You can’t live in the future either.  Realistically speaking, it doesn’t exist.  It will in time.  But you can’t be sure what will be there or if you have a place there.  Living in the future is like living in heaven. It sounds nice, but no one’s been there that can tell us what it’s like, and there’s no real proof the damn thing is even there for anyone.  Better to leave it to those who will inhabit it when it becomes the present.  It’ll be here soon enough.

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The present is nice enough.  Sometimes.  But sometimes the present is a hairy mess that is so abhorrent to the needs and wants of  some that it moves them to want to live in the past or the future.  To use imagination to get away from the awful reality of now.  Don’t blame them  This place can be a shit hole sometimes.  But it is no reason to run from it.  It’ll catch up to you.  Now is always here.

– – – – – – – – – – – –

America used to have a brighter future, because we used to be brighter ourselves.  As we have dimmed, so has our feeling of a better tomorrow.  We are not the people we once were, and to pretend otherwise is foolish and stupid.

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Our past may be glorious, but it is in the past.  Our strength is not in our past, but there are lessons there that must not be ignored. Every time we ignore the needs of the people, those needs rear their ugly heads later and damage us.  Freedoms of the people ignored, trampled and trifled with lead to much unrest later on, visiting the sins of the fathers upon the sons and grandsons who inherit a festering wound that was once something beautiful.

– – – – – – – – – – – –

Our future may be great, but it cannot be relied on to save the present.  Our past is less than great, but it is past, and cannot be undone.  Our present is a result of our past, and shows us where the future may lead.

I don’t like where it’s going.

But who ever does?

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That’s it from here, America. G’night.

Ten Minutes (Explanation, Medicine)

Pic of the day: The White Bridge, by John Henry Twatchman

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As for ‘story’ I never yet did enjoy a novel or play in which someone didn’t tell me afterward that there was something wrong with the story, so that’s going to be no drawback as far as I’m concerned. “Good Lord, why am I so bored”—”I know; it must be the plot developing harmoniously.” So I often reply to myself, and there rises before me my special nightmare—that of the writer as craftsman, natty and deft.

E.M. Forster, Selected Letters

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I’ve been writing this thing of late, you’ve seen them if you’ve showed up here at all over the last week. They’ve all had the same title. Ten minutes. And they all have had the same basic concept behind them. Tell a snippet of a story, paint a word picture of a small portion of ordinary moments of life lived by ordinary people. Take ten minutes from one life and tell that story. And make them as compelling as possible by making them as real as possible. Look at my world, and the lives and events of people around me and, adding small fictional tidbits here and there and try to tell a story.

Call them character studies, sketches of life. Not meant to be anything more than that. Not trying to build any of this into a full blown story, not meant to be an inspiration for anything. Though the thought is in the back of my mind.

Has been ever since I lost my novel. It is on the hard drive of my desktop computer. Unfortunately something happened to desktop and it no longer works. Catastrophic damage? Unrecoverable? I don’t think so, but I haven’t the money to get it fixed. So for now I write on an old laptop, and hope to get the story off of the desktop when I can.

So I am for the moment doing these small sketches, preparing ideas for another novel. This one will be more slice of life, more along the lines of Sinclair Lewis’ Babbitt.

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The pain that shot down the left side of his back made everything more difficult. As he got up from the old faded and torn brown leather chair, he had to lean heavily on the tray table in front of the chair to get up. The tray table nicked and scratched from years of use and abuse, swayed to the left and groaned as he got up. The leather on the chair crinkled and crackled as he moved forward, and groaned in time with the groaning of the table as he rose to his feet.

He tried to turn his head with some minor success though it hurt like hell, and began to make the turn to walk into the kitchen to get his painkilers. This was pain he knew would be there, but it annoyed him to no end, and he was unable to move his head as far as he wanted to. He grumbled to himself “Goddamn old man, what’d you do to yourself? You couldn’t leave well enough alone, and now you can barely move. Goddamn old man.”

A voice from the front of the house chimed. A high contralto voice said “You OK dad? Need anything?” His response was gruff and short “Nope. Got it.” The short haired brunette peeked her head around the corner to see him moving slowly from his chair, and she said to him “You know with your back in this condition you aren’t supposed to do anything. Sit down. I’ll get whatever you need.”

He stopped and slowly turned, purposefully making a show of moving extra slow and rigidly and said “I’m only going to the kitchen to grab some painkillers. I’m hurt but dammit I can still walk. Whaddayathink, I can’t take care of myself?” He looked at her with a slightly pained look and she walked quickly past him, kissed his head as she passed and said in a curt manner “OK, superman, you can do everything on your own. But while I’m here, I’m helping you. Siddown. I’ll get your painkillers.”

He glared at her back as she glided effortlessly past him. He looked painfully down at the chair he had been sitting in, and took the three steps that it took for him to get back to the front of his chair, stood between the chair and the tray table and fell into the chair. The chair and the man both groaned and grumbled under the impact of his large form falling into the old chair. The chair hissed as the air in the seat cushions were released slowly.

The woman came out of the kitchen with a glass of water and two large blue pills and said “Listen, dad, you really need to take it easy if your back is ever going to get better. You can’t go around like you are in your thirties anymore. You’re nearly 80, and frankly your lucky I had the week off so I could come over and help you today.” She looked at him and shook her head “I really wish you hadn’t tried to fix that busted pipe under the bathroom sink. That’s what professionals are for.”

He shook his head and said ” Listen, I can take care of myself. But thank you.” She reached over and handed him the medication and the water, and he took them both said a silent thank you and took them. He said “That was the al…” She cut him off and said ” Yes dad, I know what medicines you can take, and when you need to take them.”

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That’s it from here, America. G’night.