We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness….
These words from the Declaration of Independence were drafted by Thomas Jefferson and approved by Benjamin Franklin and John Adams in 1776. Almost a century later, Abraham Lincoln said that he based his own political philosophy upon them, and believed that they are the standard by which our Constitution should be interpreted. They are not perfect. They leave out women, race, and more. But they point us in the right direction, and it would be a tragic mistake to stray from that path. I intend to inscribe them on post cards and send them to people who seem to have forgotten what this country is supposed to try to be about.
Who knew that literary and musical Vincent and Mary Novello set forth in 1829 to bring a gift of money to the late W.A. Mozart’s aging sister? Or that Vincent occasionally got out of the carriage because its pace was too fast for him to enjoy the scenery, and walked along behind it instead? And who knew that there is a complete and annotated list of every belonging in Mozart’s apartment at the time of his very untimely death—a “mouse-colored overcoat,” for example? Lots of people, probably, but I didn’t until I read A Mozart Pilgrimage, ed. Rosemary Hughes (London, 1955), and the late Professor Otto Erich Deutsch’s Mozart: A Documentary Biography (Stanford, 1966). You don’t have to care about Mozart to enjoy the time-traveling these books afford.
There are reasons why my blog will never be a magnet for the public. For one thing, the people around me, when I was growing up, didn’t approve of folks who talked too much—who “shot their mouths off,” as my very laconic favorite uncle used to say. So I tend to feel, with him, that it’s best to keep the mouth shut, or the fingers off the keys. The crowning reason, though, is probably that the onset of poor vision makes it necessary to squint painfully through various spectacles and magnifying glasses to see what I’m reading or writing—something that constantly leads to all sorts of errors when I’m dealing with print. (For that reason, writing Pangur Ban posed constant challenges for me and for my brilliant and steadfast editor, Mary Kim.) But they say that having a blog helps a writer seem more real and read-worthy to the readers out there. So now and then I will produce a few blobs of blog.
Up until now, my book sales have all been made over the internet. Each sale is a thrill, and especially thrilling is when the buyer leaves a review. But this Saturday I had the pleasure of meeting buyers face to face at my first “book signing.” It was part of an event for artists and authors organized by the local library where I spend my summers. As a first-time author, I was very excited to be there and make sales, but the highlight for me was meeting wonderful people and hearing their stories. Lyme Free Library Book Sale/Artist & Author Day
Water is like oil in that once it’s been used up, there won’t be any more. It is not a renewable resource, and only about 1% of it is water that we, or our pets, or our livestock, or wildlife, can actually drink or ingest in any form. Food production itself depends on the water supply, and a chef without water would be a chef without the means to make a meal.
Since this is the case, I think we could measure people’s moral and intellectual IQs by how they treat this legacy of water. By that standard, a great many of the world’s leaders, and their followers too, are practically brain-dead. But there are geniuses, too. Among these are the Sioux of Standing Rock, North Dakota, who are risking their lives to oppose the oil-spilling, water-polluting, totally inessential industry of fracking. We can demonstrate our own high IQs by standing with them and with groups allied with them, such as Veterans for Peace.
Suppose, for example, that the physician who urges you to take Pill X also owns the company that manufactures Pill X. Or that the kid who wins the local dance competition is related to all the judges. Continue reading “Conflicts of interest” →
When my book’s co-protagonist, Brother Arcadius, started forming in my mind, he came attached to a major anachronism: his family’s brick-making business. Continue reading “Arcadius and the Planet or Whatever of Doom” →
It’s sobering to realize that of all the billions of people who have lived and died since the beginning, we know about so few. I always feel enriched by books that enlarge the cast of characters. History itself seems to make more sense when it’s not just Napoleon or whoever acting in a vacuum. Continue reading “Bit Players of History” →
There’s no such thing as a self-made man or woman. You’re more likely to encounter an actual unicorn. Continue reading “There’s no such thing” →
All right, men, women, children, oldsters, babies, all of you who are related in any way to American Revolutionary leftist firebrand Patrick Henry (I think it was Patrick Henry)—step, hobble, or crawl over to the side right now and get your IDs taken away and your home ownership canceled. Continue reading “You, you, and you” →