Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
Well, I am not going to try to explain it to you in detail, mostly because the details vary depending upon who is providing them. In a sense, the words are self-explanatory. What amazes me is how many of these fellows there were, and, still are, if you simply look for them. I have a cousin who is among them right now. I know of families who are not of Norwegian ancestry, but, never-the-less, who boast or tease or joke about having a Norwegian Bachelor Farmer among their numbers. The image emerges from an actual historical character evolving into folklore.
One note in background data: Germans, followed by Norwegians and then by other Scandinavians, were the primary immigrants to Minnesota during the 19th and early 20th centuries. This is when and where stories of the Norwegian Bachelor Farmer originated.
In a way, he had life good in that sense. Most Sunday and holiday dinners were consumed at the home of one of his sisters; he had his own house in the country in which to hang his hat and he lived life free as a bird -- working, hunting, fishing. He was an always-welcome guest in the homes of four sisters who lived nearby. There was no one to put the reins on him. He had no real responsibilities to anyone or to anything other than to himself and to his work -- but, he also gave as much as he received, and was there to help whenever and wherever he was needed.
Sunday, December 15, 2013
The illogic of logic ....
Saturday, December 7, 2013
Franz Kafka was thirty-two years old when "The Metamorphosis" was published. It took me a few years beyond that age, but I think I finally have realized what he had experienced and what he meant. What I am saying is that I think this short work of fiction is not all fiction, but an account of an event which occurred within his mind, if not actually to his body. Not all of us, but some of us, undergo a metamorphosis during our lifetimes -- perhaps, more than one.
It is tantalizing to imagine where our minds might carry us should we find ways to cut the societal bonds which encase them and to block out the constrictions which our bodies place upon them. In terms of metamorphosis, I looked at a photograph of a high school football team a few days ago. I recognized no one, not even myself. Everyone, including myself, was a stranger.
Of course, I am speaking more in a figurative sense than a literal one. I still recognize the smiling face as my face, but I do not know who he was and have a difficult time accepting that he ever was me. It is like seeing a photograph of someone I once knew, but have not encountered for years and remember only vaguely. Do you understand? Probably not. We shall leave it at that ....
The cruelty of this world is that we eventually have to say goodbye to everyone and to everything we love and hold precious in our lives. For this reason, it is easy to understand how religion entered our thought patterns as a primitive species. But, there are those like me who use that same fact as a reason not to accept a de facto god or an organized religion. That said, we should allow everyone who wants organized religion to have it without suffering secular ridicule from we, who are incapable of finding religious faith.
I am among those who do believe religion, in particular, Christianity, is under attack by any number of sources in the United States and around the world. In some countries, Egypt, Pakistan and North Korea, for instance, Christians have been imprisoned and even killed. At the risk (he says with a smile) of being labeled an infidel and a Crusader, I feel obligated to defend organized religion although I, personally, do not believe in it. This is my position because, unlike the current resident of the White House and some members of Congress, I do believe in the rights and responsibilities outlined in the U.S. Constitution.
For many, religion was and is a way to accept the harshness and difficulties we face in life. Living life today for most of us -- at least those of us who live in counties with relative economic and political stability -- is simple, easy and without much threat or danger. We are the lucky ones among those who have inhabited the earth to this point in time, and luckier still are those who genuinely possess religious faith to help them through the rough times.
The third part of this had been meant to be about the dishonesty and corruption among politicians, in particular on the part of the one occupying the White House. But, I suppose I am not quite ready to print that yet. It is coming. I will wait for our megalomaniac president to mire himself even deeper in the quicksand of his own deceitful words and actions. I think it has been three or four years since I first pointed out Barack Obama is a habitual liar -- very possibly, even a pathological one -- but it takes time for "true believers" to actually see beyond the counterfeit smile of their idol. Some never will because his failure is their failure in selecting him.
So, instead of continuing down that path, I will mention that December 7 also is the anniversary of my argument with wife No. 2 -- the quarrel which eventually led to our divorce. I finally am getting used to living alone, and I need to write about that. Sometime. Not now. This post is getting very long just as it is. But, I do wonder how others living alone feel about it. Tell me, if you would, please.
And, in a few days, on December 10, it will be sixteen years since I quit smoking. Talk about a metamorphosis: Cold turkey from a few decades of three to four packs a day of Salems and Camel straights to absolute zero. I do expect to resume smoking at some point in time. I miss it, especially the cigar with brandy after a meal.
And, again, I will mention the music. In my last post, I included Jon Bon Jovi and his song, "It's My Life." It is a great song, I think. With this post, I include the same song, but this time with Bon Jovi performing it as a ballad rather than as the hard rock rendition which made it popular worldwide. The entire album, "This Left Feels Right," is on YouTube. Try it. I will bet big bucks you like it. I guess this just goes to show the accuracy of the cliché, "You cannot judge a book by its cover."
Hmmmm .... I guess that applies to politicians as well as to books and to music.
Thursday, November 28, 2013
Charles Krauthammer Alan Dershowitz Erik Prince
If you are in the mood for winter reading
I reviewed more than a few books during my time as an active journalist, but right now I wish only to recommend three without actually reviewing them. Do a bit of further research if, after reading these brief introductions, you think you might benefit from and/or enjoy one or all of these books:
Charles Krauthammer: "Things that Matter"
Krauthammer was a medical student when he dove into a swimming pool and emerged to spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair. Despite the crippling injury, he finished his studies at Harvard Medical School and became a practicing psychiatrist. As a political liberal, he changed fields and became a speech writer for Democrat then-Vice President Walther Mondale, eventually moving on into journalism. Over the course of a few decades, he transitioned to become a conservative. He writes that as a doctor, he was trained to be a pragmatist; hence, he saw that conservatism worked while liberalism did not. The book is a compilation of columns Krauthammer wrote as a journalist, and offers the reasoning and progression why he and others evolve from a liberal to a conservative political philosophy as they gain in knowledge about rights, responsibilities and freedoms. Incidentally, Krauthammer is a Pulitzer Prize winner for his newspaper columns.
Alan Dershowitz: "Taking a Stand"
I might label this book under the category of "know thy enemy" because many of the beliefs Dershowitz professes and many of the actions he has undertaken during his adult life I find somewhere between objectionable to downright offensive. He has spent his entire career teaching at Harvard Law School and defending in courtrooms those who often are indefensible (in my opinion). For instance, he was an advisor in the defense of O.J. Simpson at his trial for the murder of Nicole Simpson and Ronald Goldman. Never-the-less, the book is fascinating in the sense of understanding the world as seen through the eyes of those who believe in an extremely liberal social and political philosophy. There are times the best friends might be political opposites, and Dershowitz could easily be one in a strictly social sense. However, to me he seems unable to draw a line between legal concepts and justice, and is willing to act as a legal mercenary if he is paid well enough.
Erik Prince: "Civilian Warriors"
This is one fascinating story. Prince, originally from Michigan, dropped out of the U.S. Naval Academy, but after graduating from Hillsdale College became an officer and a SEAL in the U.S. Navy. For a time, he belonged to a SEAL/CIA "nasty" team. (Nasty is my term, since assassination teams do not exist under the official auspices of the U.S government, right?) After the Navy, he returned to run his family's billion-dollar business and later created Blackwater, which, in polite terms, would be called a private security firm and the world's largest private military company. A generation ago, it would have been called an outfit for training and supplying mercenaries to the highest bidder, which included (whoops, you probably guessed it) Uncle Sam. Is it not fascinating how rhetoric and semantics have changed the face of America? Prince explains how Blackwater often took the bullets and the blame when things went wrong for U.S. government operations and assignments in places like Iraq. Prince has vowed he never again would work for the federal government because of its corruption and dishonesty. I, for one, agree wih him.
FramWinter: November through March
Those who have passed this way at this time of year before know that I do not measure seasons by the calendar, but, rather, by their general arrival and departure in my niche of the world. So, then:
FramWinter began November 1. It will end March 31. Which is not to say winter storms cannot occur before or after those dates, but is to say this is a pretty accurate, general measurement of typical weather in this neck of the woods.
I really would like to hibernate this year, more so than most years. I often say I have bear blood in my veins because, just about the time October is in full stride, I want to sleep and to forget the world until the sun awakens me around the end of March. Well, we shall see what develops between now and Yuletide. Perhaps, the end of 2013 is not too late to leap off some proverbial cliff and to discover what awaits below.
As for the music, this time around includes a pair of songs I have used in past posts. The first is representative of the "never a winter alone again" promise I made to myself during the winter of 2009 and failed to keep .... here I go again .... alone again, without you. The second is symbolic of my mood and my thoughts and my notion of going on the road for a while and following the music until I arrive at a place in the sun.
Happy Thanksgiving ....
Friday, November 22, 2013
So, here we are .... is it time yet?
However, I will note that certain "facts" related to the Kennedy murder which were not released in 1963 when it happened were to be given to the public fifty years after his death. That is what was promised to the American people by the American government back then.
So, here we are, fifty years later. Is it time yet? Honor the promise. Tell me those facts which were kept secret at the time of JFK's assassination.
.... Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Macbeth / Act 5, Scene 5
Look around you
The ghost of Caesar hath appear'd to me ....
Julius Caesar / Act 5, Scene 5
Saturday, November 16, 2013
Give me a head with hair
Sunday, November 10, 2013
This is the United States Marine Corps War Memorial adjacent to Arlington, Virginia, National Cemetery as it appears at night in a photograph by Catie Drew. I was there once, while I was in the Marines, not at night, but on a sunny Sunday. I had traveled north, coming from a base at Quantico, Virginia, for a weekend in Washington, D.C. I would hope this site is a special place -- even a sacred place -- for every American and not just for Marines. A walk through the national cemetery and a visit to the Tomb of the Unknowns create an emotional awakening which is difficult to describe -- so, I will not even try. Today -- November 10 -- is the 238th birthday of the Marine Corps. Monday -- November 11 -- is Veterans Day in the U.S. Once called Armistice Day by Americans and still referred to by that name or as Remembrance Day in many other nations, it marks the end to World War I. Originally, the day was meant to pay homage to veterans of the "war to end all wars," but later was revamped to include veterans of all wars. Few people observe Veterans Day and fewer still realize today is the USMC birthday. If you are reading this, now you know and I hope you will devote a minute or two to dwell upon the significance of each. I looked at probably fifteen videos trying to find one that fit this post. I found nothing that took hold of me, but I settled on this one which briefly shows a ceremony at the American cemetery at Belleau Wood in France. It seemed to be symbolic of the Corps because it was Marines who stopped German forces advancing on Paris in their tracks there in 1918 and because it was a World War I battle and, therefore, linked to the origins of Veterans Day .... sort of a salute to the memory of both events, which are among those which shaped the world we live in today.