April 12, 2013

Bumper sticker thoughts

In lieu of a real blog post, I'd like to report on some of the more interesting bumper stickers I've seen lately.
The first of these is on a topic frequently discussed here but one which, sadly, has been neglected lately: to wit, zombies.

In the parking lot of a Kroger store, I saw one that said something like "The hardest part of a zombie apocalypse will be pretending I'm not excited." I don't exactly look forward to one, but it would no doubt put a certain zest into one's days.

Another good one, which by coincidence or not was seen near where the WV legislature meets said "Come to the Dark Side! We have cookies." That would probably be all it would take for some folks. Probably for me too if it was in the afternoon and they had coffee as well.

Finally, I'm still trying to figure this one out. I saw a vehicle with a Dostoevsky bumper sticker, which is fine, AND a "Who is John Galt" Ayn Rand bumper sticker.

I'm sorry. El Cabrero is all about freedom of expression but you can't have it both ways. It's either got to be Dostoevsky or Rand but not both. One has to choose between being a real and compassionate person or a moral insect. Father Zossima and Alyosha Karamazov would be mortified.

Interestingly, the vehicle also had a 13.1 sticker, signifying the mileage a half marathon. The Spousal Unit and I are going to try to do one on trails at Babcock State Park tomorrow. I estimate that it will take me a week to finish. Don't wait up. And don't mix your bumper stickers!

KALOO KALAY no links today. We're cabbages and kings.


April 10, 2013

It is time to be old?

This blog has been running a series about the life and writing of Ralph Waldo Emerson for a good while now. As the series draws to a close I'm looking at some of his poems. Today's feature is "Terminus," named after the Roman god of boundaries.

It's interesting because it is about aging and yielding gracefully to it. You can compare and contrast that sentiment with Tennyson's poem Ulysses, in which the hero closes by saying

Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

Emerson, by contrast, aims to trim himself to the storm of time. As it turned out, the poem was prophetic. In his last years, he developed dementia and the man of words developed aphasia, forgetting his own name at times.

As someone who isn't getting a whole lot younger at the moment, I kind of like both poems but at the moment I'm leaning to Tennyson. This weekend I plan on dragging my creaking bones to a half marathon trail run on very hilly ground and I hope not to yield before crossing the finish line. Anyhow, here's one to think about:


 It is time to be old,
To take in sail:--
The gods of bounds,
Who sets to seas a shore,
Came to me in his fatal rounds,
And said: 'No more!
No farther shoot
Thy broad ambitious branches, and thy root.
Fancy departs: no more invent;
Contract thy firmament
To compass of a tent.
There's not enough for this and that,
Make thy option which of two;
Economize the failing river,
Not the less revere the Giver,
Leave the many and hold the few.
Timely wise accept the terms,
Soften the fall with wary foot;
A little while
Still plan and smile,
And,--fault of novel germs,--
Mature the unfallen fruit.
Curse, if thou wilt, thy sires,
Bad husbands of their fires,
Who, when they gave thee breath,
Failed to bequeath
The needful sinew stark as once,
The Baresark marrow to thy bones,
But left a legacy of ebbing veins,
Inconstant heat and nerveless reins,--
Amid the Muses, left thee deaf and dumb,
Amid the gladiators, halt and numb.'
As the bird trims her to the gale,
I trim myself to the storm of time,
I man the rudder, reef the sail,
Obey the voice at eve obeyed at prime:
'Lowly faithful, banish fear,
Right onward drive unharmed;
The port, well worth the cruise, is near,
And every wave is charmed.'

DO IT. Here's a link to a publication by AFSC on why WV should expand Medicaid coverage.

WHAT WAS FOR SUPPER? According to the earliest known cookware, it was fish soup.

BACK TO THE AGING THING. It looks like today's adults live longer but are less healthy than recent but older generations.


April 09, 2013

I keep, and pass, and turn again

Say what you want about the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson, but he gave me an easy topic to blog about during a busy couple of months. For that I'm grateful, anyway.

For the last month or two I've been looking at some of his most influential essays or lectures, but it turns out that what Waldo really wanted was to be a great poet. I'm not sure he hit the mark, but it wasn't for lack of trying. One line from an 1837 Fourth of July poem about his town of Concord during the American Revolution became quite famous, as in "the shot heard round the world."

I can't claim that I've read all his poems but I did find two that I really liked. Today's feature is the poem Brahma, which was published in 1857. It reflects his interest in the spiritual literature of India and was heavily influenced by the Bhagavad Gita. The poem also captures some of the monistic (as in all is One) and pantheistic (as in all is God) themes of Transcendentalism.

Here goes:
If the red slayer think he slays,
Or if the slain think he is slain,
They know not well the subtle ways
I keep, and pass, and turn again.

Far or forgot to me is near;
Shadow and sunlight are the same;
The vanished gods to me appear;
And one to me are shame and fame.

They reckon ill who leave me out;
When me they fly, I am the wings;
I am the doubter and the doubt,
And I the hymn the Brahmin sings.

The strong gods pine for my abode,
And pine in vain the sacred Seven;
But thou, meek lover of the good!
Find me, and turn thy back on heaven.
IGNORANCE is alive and well, according to this writer.

MONKEY TALK. Did human speech develop from this kind of primate communication?

ARE WE ALONE? Here's an interesting item on the search for extraterrestrial life.


April 08, 2013

Insist on yourself

For a good little stretch the theme a Goat Rope has been the life and thought of 19th century American writer Ralph Waldo Emerson. Here's one last bit of advice from his signature essay Self Reliance:

Insist on yourself; never imitate. Your own gift you can present every moment with the cumulative force of a whole life's cultivation; but of the adopted talent of another, you have only an extemporaneous, half possession. That which each can do best, none but his Maker can teach him. No man yet knows what it is, nor can, till that person has exhibited it. Where is the master who could have taught Shakespeare?  Where is the master who could have instructed Franklin, or Washington, or Bacon, or Newton? Every great man is a unique. The Scipionism of Scipio is precisely that part he could not borrow. Shakespeare will never be made by the study of Shakespeare  Do that which is assigned you, and you cannot hope too much or dare too much.

JUST DO IT. Yesterday, nearly 200 West Virginians gathered to urge Governor Tomblin to expand Medicaid coverage to low wage workers.

AND WHILE WE'RE AT IT, here's Krugman on the same topic.

PERCHANCE TO DREAM. Scientists are making progress at decoding dreams. Where will this end?