August 14, 2010

How doth the little crocodile

How doth the little crocodile
Improve his shining tail,
And pour the waters of the Nile
On every golden scale!

How cheerfully he seems to grin
How neatly spreads his claws,
And welcomes little fishes in,
With gently smiling jaws!--Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

August 13, 2010


I have a soft spot for the German philosopher Hegel, who once described world history--all too well--as "this slaughter-bench, upon which the happiness of nations, the wisdom of states, and the virtues of individuals were sacrificed..."

He also had this to say about what it takes to get things done:

We say, therefore, that nothing at all has come to pass without the interest of those whose activity is involved in it. And since we call an interest a "passion"--when all of one's individuality, to the neglect of all other interests and purposes one might have, is placed in the service of some cause; and every fiber of one's being, every last ounce of will-power is committed to it, so that all of one's needs and forces are concentrated upon it--we must assert as a general proposition that nothing great has been accomplished in the world without passion.

PREJUDICE is bad for your health.

YOU MIGHT NEED A (GOOD) WEATHERMAN or weather woman to know which way the climate change wind blows.

WHILE WE'RE AT IT, here's another one on the same subject.


August 12, 2010

Like the bending of a bow

The current debate about letting Bush-era high end tax cuts expire reminded me of this little gem from the ancient Chinese classic the Tao Te Ching:

The Tao of heaven is like the bending of a bow.
The high is lowered and the low is raised.
If the string is too long, it is shortened;
If there is not enough, it is made longer.

The Tao of heaven is to take from those who have too much
and give to those who do not have enough.
Man's way is different.
He takes from those who do not have enough
to give to those who already have too much.

TWO TAKES ON THE GREAT RECESSION. Here are differing but interesting looks at trend in the economic downturn. First up is this item from David Leonhardt in the NY Times, followed by another view from economist Dean Baker.

GOING GREEN. Here's Leo Gerard, president of the United Steelworkers union, on efforts to grow green manufacturing jobs in the US.

NO CLIMATE CHANGE AROUND HERE, BOSS. Greenland, however, may be a different story.

IF SOUTH CAROLINA CAN DO IT, why can't West Virginia?

GOINGS ON. Over the last few days, the WV state capitol has seen rallies in support of comprehensive immigration reform and same sex marriage.

ONE THE MENU. Some early human ancestors had a taste for meat.


August 11, 2010

For this relief much thanks

A vote in the US House yesterday means good news for tens of thousands of teachers and other workers who would otherwise have faced layoffs as states continue to struggle with the recession. The US House approved the measure 247-161. The bill will provide $26 billion in aid to states, which are still reeling from the recession while much of the money from the Recovery Act has been spent.

This is something many groups and individuals have been trying to get done all summer. It's not enough to really kickstart the economy but it's a step in the right direction.

ARISTOTLE WOULD PROBABLY AGREE with this article on the importance of the middle class and not letting it die.

DON'T GET MAD, GET MOVING. Exercise may help moderate anger. I knew that.



August 10, 2010

Different drums

A while back, I killed some blog time with my version of Henry David Thoreau's Greatest Hits from Walden. On perusing the final pages I noticed that I left out a couple.

Here goes:

The universe is wider than our views of it.

And somehow I missed this one:

If a man does not keep pace wit his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.

BIG VOTE TODAY. The US House is expected to vote today on a bill (finally) passed by the Senate that would extend fiscal aid to the states. Here's a report that shows what this will mean to each state in terms of preserving jobs and services. It wouldn't hurt to contact your representative and urge a yes vote.

LEFT BEHIND. Thirty two states have modernized their unemployment insurance system and drawn down extra Recovery Act money. El Cabrero's beloved state of West Virginia, alas, isn't one of them.


NOT DEAD YET. Reports of the imminent demise of Social Security have been greatly exaggerated.


August 09, 2010

Of opening lines and such

I don't have the gift of writing fiction, or if I do, it hasn't exactly manifested itself yet. This may be a good thing since the kind of novel I'd be tempted to attempt would be so multi layered and symbolic that it would get on everyone's nerves.

As far as a recipe of literary influences would go into the mix, ingredients would be a cup of Melville, some Kafka and Faulkner, a pinch of Borges, and a quart of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It seems like the genre of magical realism that Garcia Marquez perfected would be the appropriate genre for writing about West Virginia.

Garcia Marquez was also the master of the opening line. Consider this one from his masterpiece, One Hundred Years of Solitude:

Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember the distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.

That's a hard one to top. I guess I'll stick to blogging and the occasional op-ed.

DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS: I apologize to email subscribers. A draft post accidentally got sent out before its time. The blogger program has the irritating habit of going off half-cocked sometimes.

LIGHTS GOING OUT. Krugman's latest argues that skewed priorities are damaging the country.

A HARD WALK. Here's an interesting article about how the WV Council of Churches deals with mining issues in the heart of coal country.

AWAKENINGS over various kinds are among the themes of the Rev. Jim Lewis' latest edition of Notes from Under the Fig Tree.