Friday, December 31, 2004

The path of human destiny cannot but appall him who surveys a section of it. But he will do well to keep his small commentaries to himself, as one does at the sight of the sea or of majestic mountains.

Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism

Friday, December 24, 2004

Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.

Samuel Johnson to James Boswell, in his The Life of Samuel Johnson

Friday, December 17, 2004

It is wonderful when a calculation is made, how little the mind is actually employed in the discharge of any profession.

Samuel Johnson to James Boswell, in his The Life of Samuel Johnson

Sunday, December 05, 2004

A man must live, and if he precludes himself from the support furnished by the establishment, will probably be reduced to very wicked shifts to maintain himself.

Samuel Johnson to James Boswell, in his The Life of Samuel Johnson

Thursday, December 02, 2004

The vanquished know war. They see through the empty jingoism of those who use the abstract words of glory, honor, and patriotism to mask the cries of the wounded, the senseless killing, war profiteering, and chest-pounding grief. They know the lies the victors often do not acknowledge, the lies covered up in stately war memorials and mythic war narratives, filled with stories of courage and comradeship. They know the lies that permeate the thick, self-important memoirs by amoral statesmen who make wars but do not know war. The vanquished know the essence of war — death. They grasp that war is necrophilia. They see that war is a state of almost pure sin with its goals of hatred and destruction. They know how war fosters alienation, leads inevitably to nihilism, and is a turning away from the sanctity and preservation of life. All other narratives about war too easily fall prey to the allure and seductiveness of violence, as well as the attraction of the godlike power that comes with the license to kill with impunity.

Chris Hedges, "On War" The New York Review (December 16, 2004).

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Like sex, bathing, sleeping, and drinking, the effects of food don't last. The patterns are repeated but finite. Life is a near-death experience, and our devious minds will do anything to make it interesting.

Jim Harrison, "A Really Big Lunch," The New Yorker, September 6, 2004.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

If he would just take a plunge (always the Realtor’s fondest wish for mankind), banish fear, let loose the reins, think that instead of having suffered error and loss he’d survived them and that today is the first day of his new life, then he’d be fine and dandy. In other words, embrace in full the permanent period of life, live not as though he were going to die tomorrow but as though he might live.

Richard Ford, The Shore, The New Yorker, August 2, 2004

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Wartime Washington

Today the maples are in flames,
The breeze so cool,
I need body armor.
The world is at war,
No truce, no quarter.

The words of an old song
Go through my brain.
How did I get here?
Whose life is this anyway?

Fuck it.
It doesn’t matter.
Today the maples are in flames.
And I have body armor.


Saturday, October 16, 2004

Sky Blue

At 7 am
The sun was barely up.
Three hours later,
The shadows were still long on Rock Creek.
The sky shined a perfect blue,
With a brilliance so true
It juxtaposed
The trees –
Greens, reds, browns and golds
Already a bit of a cacophony –
Showing off the earth’s odd colors.

The artist who painted this picture,
However uncaring of life within the frame,
Set the stage with great beauty.
What more can we reasonably ask
Of any deity.


Tuesday, October 12, 2004

A man’s usefulness
depends upon living up to
his ideals
in so far as he can.

A great democracy
has got to be progressive or
it will soon cease
to be great or a democracy.

Teddy Roosevelt

Monday, October 11, 2004

All the exotic ingredients of alchemy – all the metals and minerals and compounds – are in truth one, and that singularity is neither more nor less than the person of the alchemist himself. If the base metal is in need of purification then so, even more so, is he. Out of the corruption and confusion he must find a oneness in which nature and divinity are reconciled. Out of the unstillness of his own impurity must come the transforming power to achieve redemption.

Alan Wall, The School Of Night

Saturday, October 09, 2004

October Season

Most trees still have their leaves,
Except for those on the boulevard,
Sickly from the fumes,
The sort the local electric company
Likes to “trim.”

Green leaves too,
With just fringes here and there,

On quiet side streets,
Birds were singing
As if still in spring.

Confused about the season?

The squirrels running into the road,
Mouths stuffed with acorns.
They know.


Thursday, October 07, 2004


Sunlight gleaming off the water,
Water where water should be.
A squirrel lies dead on the bridge,
That it gave its life crossing.
A bit of a strange place to die,
Suspended over the water.


I see the caterpillar on the parkway
Too late.
I swerve.
Think I missed it.
I don’t look back.

Two poems from a bike ride, GMG.

Monday, October 04, 2004

...conducting alchemical experiments...searching for the brightest thing, for something so luminous, even though it was hidden away at the heart of matter, that, should it ever get to be uncovered, it would have made...the sun blink.

Alan Wall, The School of Night

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

I believe it will always be found, that he who calls much for information will advance his work but slowly.

Samuel Johnson to James Boswell, in his The Life of Samuel Johnson

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Out here in the fields, I fight for my meals, I get my back into my living.
I don't need to fight, To prove I'm right, I don't need to be forgiven.

The Who, Baba O'Riley

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Where is the subject and where is the object if you are operating on your own brain? The point is made by the expression “what we are looking for is what is looking.” Consciousness involves a paradoxical self-reference, a ability taken for granted, to refer to ourselves separate from the environment.

Amit Goswami, The Self-Aware Universe

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is braver for five minutes longer.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, July 15, 2004

What I want is
What I've not got
And What I need is
All around me.

Dave Matthews, Jimi Thing.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Fool: One whom nature has denied reason; a natural; an idiot....A wicked man....One who counterfeits folly; a buffoon; a jester....To make a fool. To disappoint; to defeat.

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

When your elevator doesn't reach the top floor,
You have to use the stairs.


Friday, June 04, 2004

Griefs upon griefs! Disappointments upon disappointments. What then? This is a gay, merry world notwithstanding.

John Adams, as quoted by David McCullough in his John Adams.

Friday, May 28, 2004

What a large volume of adventures may be grasped within this little span of life by him who interests his heart in everything.

Laurence Sterne, as quoted by David McCullough in his John Adams.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

His understanding lies, I think, rather in seeing large things largely than correctly....In the conduct of affairs he may perhaps be able to take so comprehensive a view as to render invention and expedient unnecessary.

Franklin Alexander, describing John Adams as quoted by David McCullough in his John Adams.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

I am not going to speak to you at all about the justice or injustice of your conduct. I know very well that this word is nothing but noise, when it is a question of the general interest. I could speak to you about the means by which you could succeed, and ask you whether you are strong enough to play the role of oppressors; this would be closer to the heart of the matter. However I will not even do that, but I will confine myself to imploring you to cast your eyes on the nations who hate you: ask them; see what they think of you, and tell me to what extent you have resolved to make your enemies laugh at you.

Denis Diderot in June 1776 to John Wilkes in reference to British pursuit of war to suppress the American colonies, as quoted by Emma Rothschild in The New York Review (March 25, 2004).

Friday, April 30, 2004

Government is nothing more than the combined force of society, or the united power of the multitude, for the peace, order, safety, good and happiness of the people.

John Adams as quoted by David McCullough in his John Adams.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Forget about the reasons and
The treasons we are seeking.
Forget about the notion that
Our emotions can be kept at bay,
Forget about being guilty,
We are innocent instead
For soon we will all find our lives swept away.

Dave Matthews, Seek Up

Monday, April 05, 2004

Concentrate on the real thing while you have the chance.

Bob Shaw
, The Ceres Solution (A good SciFi read.)

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Lyrics On Demand - for when you need to know all the words.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

…the lessons to be learned from Thucydides are no different from the ones that the tragic playwrights teach: that the arrogant self can become the abject Other; that failure to bend, to negotiate, inevitably results in terrible fracture; that, because we are only human, our knowledge is merely knowingness, our vision partial rather than whole, and we must tread carefully in the world.

Daniel Mendelsohn, “Theatres of War,” The New Yorker, January 12, 2004

Friday, March 05, 2004

The Nile First Descent Expedition - Pasquale "PV" Scaturro's site

Saturday, February 28, 2004

McQuillan walked into a bar and ordered martini after martini, each time removing the olives and placing them in a jar. When the jar was filled with olives and all the drinks consumed, the Irishman started to leave. "S' cuse me", said a customer, who was puzzled over what McQuillan had done,"what was that all about?" "Nothin', said the Irishman, "me wife just sent me out for a jar of olives!"

A martini joke, not an Irish joke: "He said, like James Bond? I said, yes, just like James Bond."

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

…all the provisions that He has [made] for the gratification of our senses…are much inferior to the provision, the wonderful provision that He has made for the gratification of our nobler powers of intelligence and reason. He has given us reason to find out the truth, and the real design and true end of our existence.

A young John Adams as quoted by David McCullough in his John Adams.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

latitudinarian adj. Not restrained; not confined; thinking or acting at large.

latitudinarian n.s. One who departs from orthodoxy.

From Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

Saturday, January 10, 2004

Consciousness is an interminable yakking, a frantic effort to keep up appearances, to make the game seem always to be your game.

Louis Menand, review of Updike's fiction in the December 1, 2003 New Yorker.

Thursday, January 08, 2004

Life is short. The sooner that a man begins to enjoy his wealth, the better.

Samuel Johnson to James Boswell