Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Loneliest Liberal: What Big Pharma could learn from theatre production

Winning the Battle on Black Mountain

By James Knudsen

Well, here it is March, and I still have things to write about that happened in February. That’s not just a different month, as of a few days ago, that’s a different season. February, despite being the shortest month, was a busy month.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Thunder Down Under: The world’s biggest cattle ranch

But it’s called a “cattle station” in Australia

By Vic Midyett

The Williams [Family] Cattle Company’s cattle station in Australia has become the largest in the world. The company’s purchase of another enormous cattle station doubled their holdings, which are now a whopping 45,000 sq. kilometers (27,962 sq. miles) – larger than the country of Israel, and over seven times the size of the King Ranch in Texas, which is “only” 1,289 sq. miles.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Let us now praise a famous dog

With thanks and apologies to James Agee and Ecclesiasticus

By Jonathan Price

Sam is dead. Our dog died seven years ago. That seven is a key marker for dogs – a symbolic marker for humans. The memories somehow persist.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Tomorrow will be a special day

The 12th annual National Puppy Day

By Moristotle

“National Puppy Day,” according to its entry in Wikipedia, “was founded in 2006 by Celebrity Pet & Home Lifestyle Expert and Author, Colleen Paige, who is also the founder of National Dog Day and National Cat Day (among many others).”

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Dogs, Boys, and God (a poem)

By Roger Owens

God made little Boys loud
So that Dogs, who Love little Boys,
Could hear them from miles away
And, hearing, prick up their ears
In anticipated Joy.

Copyright © 2017 by Roger Owens

Monday, March 20, 2017

Correspondence: Irony...and a public dole

Current events

By Moristotle

“Weaponizing irony”: could this be one of Trump’s greatest offenses? “Trump Ruins Irony, Too” [Moises Velasquez-Manoff, NY Times, March 20]. Excerpt:

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Night light

Rather noir

By Moristotle

When I looked into the bathroom mirror early this morning, my visage illuminated only by the blue of our new LED night light, I thought the effect was...interesting?

Saturday, March 18, 2017

A stop on Maui’s Ke’anae Peninsula

Ke’anae Peninsula
Lava at high noon

By Chuck Smythe

Last October in Hawaii, on the way to Hana, I visited the island of Maui’s Ke’anae Peninsula. [“Ke’anae” is Hawaiian for “the mullet,” a chiefly marine fish that is widely caught for food – according to]

Friday, March 17, 2017

Correspondence: Happy St. Patrick’s Day

The South Lawn fountain at the White House
was dyed green for St. Patrick’s Day
Hooray for America’s Irish immigrants!

By Moristotle

The author of this article about Irish immigration, Fintan O’Toole, knows whereof he speaks – he is a columnist for The Irish Times. “Green Beer and Rank Hypocrisy” [NY Times, March 16]. Excerpt:

Solomon (a poem)

A freshman high-school project, March 1983

By Geoffrey Dean

This is the story of Solomon, that wise and wonderful king,
    who built for Yahweh a temple, a big and marvelous thing.
Pharoah’s daughter in marriage Solomon wished.
    This placed him high on Pharoah’s list.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Movie Review: Logan and The Shack

In great difference, a thematic commonality

By Kyle Garza

Weekend before last, people poured into theaters to watch two very different movies: Logan and The Shack. While I’ve not seen The Shack, I have read the book, and I did go see Logan that Saturday.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Visions of the American West (Part 4)

The Northwest

By James T. Carney

Finally, the fourth part of the West is the Northwest, although most Americans do not think of it as “the West.” The Northwest is the smallest part of the West, including only northern California and most of Oregon and Washington.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Visions of the American West (Part 3)

The Mountains

By James T. Carney

The third part of the West is the Mountains (Rockies) and the high plateau around them. Indeed, it is this area – the home of dude ranches and national parks – that most Americans now seem to identify as the West. The Rockies extend from Alaska south to the Mexican border. They encompass the western part of Washington, almost all of Idaho, the western parts of Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado, as well as a strip of New Mexico and the mountainous part of the Big Bend area of Texas. Although one thinks of ranching in terms of Texas and the Great Plains, the Mountains are the site of much modern-day American ranching, as it has been for a good century and a half. Unlike the Great Plains or the Southwest, the Mountains have much water and good land suitable for grazing, although generally not flat enough for farming. The Mountains are reasonably temperate in the summer but brutally cold in the winter. Even sections of interstate highways that go through mountain passes are often blocked by winter storms (which cause havoc in the Great Plains). Indeed some roads are not even maintained in the winter.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Visions of the American West (Part 2)

The Southwest

By James T. Carney

The second-largest part of the West is the Southwest – ironically the situs of most Hollywood movies about cowboys and Indians, although most of the cowboys who have roamed this territory came from Beverly Hills. The Southwest is the part of the West that I know best because of having made a great number of trips there. The Southwest is bordered on the south by Mexico, on the east by the Rockies, on the north by the end of the desert, and on the west by the California coastal plain, which is east of the Sierra Nevada. It consists of Southern California, Arizona, western New Mexico and Utah, Nevada, and Southwestern Oregon. Basically, it is the territory that the United States took from Mexico in the Mexican-American war. It is an extremely dry territory, full of canyons, mesas, and mountains, and in many ways inhospitable to man. Civilization’s existence in this area is precarious, since it depends on the resources of the Colorado River, which is fed by the snows of the Rockies. Natural aquifers are being depleted at an alarming rate, and if global warming decreases the snow in the Rockies, Phoenix will go the way of so many of the Southwestern mining towns that were abandoned after the ore gave out.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Visions of the American West (Part 1)

Introduction & the Great Plains

By James T. Carney

Some of us grew up in the era of Crockett mania, with the chorus of the frontiersman sounding in our ears:
He’s ahead of us all
meetin’ the test
Followin’ his legend
into the West.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Poetry & Portraits: Penny

By Eric Meub


Behind us naps the Byzantine and Belle
Époque of the Excelsior Hotel;
before us, Adriatic shallows flood
a Canaletto flat of sand and mud.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Outside the Box: Machine translation

By Chuck Smythe

I stumbled on to this piece from a December New York Times Magazine: “The Great A.I. Awakening” [Gideon Lewis-Krause, December 14, 2016]. It seems that artificial intelligence researchers have made a Great Leap Forward in machine language translation. The article is fascinating on many levels, among them its glimpse into the Google corporate culture.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Приключения от България: в Рила планина с 70+

Чрез Валерия Идакиева

Винаги съм мислил за планините като мястото, където се чувствам свободен от всички притеснения на всекидневния живот. Сърцето ми скача от радост в цялата красота и спокойствие, което изпълва душата ми. Ето защо аз обикновено прекарват малкото свободно време, имам в планините.
    Аз също имам голямо уважение към хората, които са били в планината много. Такъв е моят приятел Димитринка който е опасана българските планини за повече от 30 години. Преди започване на дълги разстояния пътека, аз обикновено посещават й да говори за това и тежи раницата. При един случай, когато щях да ходя на екскурзия по протежение на дългата писта в българските планини - около 720 км - тя ме посъветва да вземе малка бутилка ром, защото е добре да има някакъв алкохол в планините.

Adventures from Bulgaria: In the Rila Mountains with a 70+

By Valeria Idakieva

I have always thought of the mountains as the place where I feel free of all the worries of everyday life. My heart leaps with joy at all the beauty and serenity that fills my soul. That is why I usually spend the little free time I have in the mountains.
    I also have great respect for people who have been in the mountains a lot. Such is my friend Dimitrinka who has crisscrossed Bulgarian mountains for more than 30 years. Before starting a long-distance trail, I usually visit her to talk about it and weigh my backpack. On one occasion when I was going to hike along the longest trail in the Bulgarian mountains – about 720 km – she advised me to take a small bottle of rum because it was good to have some alcohol in the mountains.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Book Review: Nutshell (a novel)

By Moristotle

With a whoop and a slap of my thigh, I finished Ian McEwan’s latest novel, Nutshell, its final act an ingenious, but inevitable turn of plot. What a read! I highly recommend Nutshell, for all those who like their fiction with a flair for invention – in language as well as in setting and narrative voice – and for informed comment on culture, politics, psychology…and, in this case, forensic investigation. For Nutshell involves a murder.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Correspondence: Looking up

By Moristotle

Some good things are happening in America: “A Great New Accidental Renaissance” [Timothy Egan, NY Times, March 3]. Excerpt:

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Other Side of Me (a poem)

By Roger Owens

He moved down the sidewalk of 25th Street like a battered little boat, rudderless against a strong current
Bobbing and weaving

Friday, March 3, 2017

In celebration of the people of Moristotle & Co.

By Moristotle

It occurred to me today that I could construct a collage of photos of members of the staff, some past – one even deceased. And I’ve added Ms. Bindi Danchenko as well (her presence can remind us that “Everyone poops”).

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Correspondence: Refresher

By Moristotle

After all the enemying, don’t you think your readers need a few days off from you-know-who?

Monday, February 27, 2017

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Near and far in sestina

Piedmont eye chart

By Moristotle

[This poem was originally published on June 8, 2013.]

Questions have arisen about sunsets.
Why is one beautiful to me but plain
to the next person? Some want horizons
spread out under a big sky at a far
distance over vast space, but I want near
displays set against trees and local piedmont

Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Loneliest Liberal: Mum’s the word

I’m going to be in a TV soap opera

By James Knudsen

It’s probably a safe bet to say, that among the contributors and consumers of Moristotle & Co., there aren’t a lot of soap-opera devotees. The genre is one of those things that elites on the coasts look down their noses at while they make high-minded jokes about the low-brow art form. Still, it does pay.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Review: Olive Kitteridge (a book)

Life as we live it

By Moristotle

[In Wednesday’s post, “A curious case of apathy,” I mentioned a book club I had participated in. The book reviewed today was discussed in that club, and the review, “Life as we live it,” was originally published on August 14, 2012.]

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Correspondence: Donny Trumpp plays Johnny Depp

By Moristotle

Donald Trump’s affectless reading of “his” anti-anti-Semitism statement brings to mind Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s droll,tongue-in-cheek “apology” to Australia for illegally bringing her two dogs into the country: “Trump denounces anti-Semitic threats as ‘horrible’ after facing criticism” [ABC News, February 21]:

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

A curious case of apathy

By Moristotle

Entering the offices of my cardiologist’s practice yesterday morning, I felt (or, rather, failed to feel) in a way that I could only think was apathy. Apathy in the basic sense of lack of enthusiasm, or impassivity, or ennui. Usually, whenever I approach a receptionist – whether in a doctor’s office, a Starbuck’s, Elliott’s Pet Spa, or wherever – I feel primed to banter, to joke, to say something I hope will sound witty.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Thunder Down Under: How do we choose to react to a joke?

By Vic Midyett

How do we choose to react to something we consider rude, politically incorrect, or demeaning to a situation or to ourselves? Do we first ask ourselves some questions? Or do we simply assume that what was said was intended to be demeaning? Was it said as a joke simply for a joke’s sake? Was it meant as a slam of “my kind” or of me in particular?
    I think that if we don’t know the answers to these questions, we are doing ourselves a disservice. As I have said before, OTHERS cannot MAKE US feel. We CHOOSE how we react to others and everything.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Lost time reading Marcel Proust

Hawthorns in blossom

By Moristotle

As a direct result of visiting Paris last year with my wife, for our 50th wedding anniversary, I have finally been applying myself to reading Marcel Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past (A la Recherche du Temps Perdu [In Search of Lost Time]), which I had been meaning to read ever since my wife read it over 35 years ago, in the C. K. Scott Moncrieff translation (1920’s), before we moved from California to North Carolina.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

West Coast Observer: An abhorrent admiration

Let’s not have a repeat

By William Silveira

I happened to view the PBS News Hour with Judy Woodruff on February 15, and I came away shocked and frightened for the future of our country and the world.
    I am sure that many of you have read about the glowing reports of the wonderful work Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party were doing in Germany in the 1930’s. Their false and fatuous view of what was going on helped cement Hitler’s grip on power in Germany during that era. Among the Americans who were taken in by Hitler and the Nazis were Charles Lindbergh and Joseph Kennedy. Now I see the same sort of line being taken by Carter Page, a former foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, and a consultant to the American oil industry.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

A history not of God, but of the idea of God

By Moristotle

[Originally published on March 19, 2008]

Karen Armstrong’s 1993 book, subtitled “The 4000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam,” has the misleading but catchier title A History of God. She herself refers in the Introduction to “this history of the idea and experience of [emphasis mine] God in the three monotheistic faiths of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam” [p. xix]. She admits that God might not really exist and that she wished, “when I was starting out in the religious life” [in the 1960’s], that she had been told to “deliberately create a sense of him for myself.”

Friday, February 17, 2017

Blossoms in winter

Flowering apricot

By Moristotle

I took these photographs last month, in our yard (and inside our home), in Mebane, North Carolina.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

To Valentine’s Day

By Moristotle

[A reader commented yesterday on this poem’s original post, on Valentine’s Day 2015, reminding me I had even written it (and might have republished it yesterday).]

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Happier Valentine’s Day than this!

By Moristotle

Unhappy Valentines: romantic holiday disasters” [various, Guardian, February 11]. Few things conjure up the idea of romance like an exotic trip with a partner, though the reality can be excruciatingly different, as these writers discovered....:

Monday, February 13, 2017

Correspondence: Resisting Trumpery

Edited by Moristotle

Thanks for occasionally sharing a live “Resistance Report” from Robert Reich, which have been very informative and inspirational during these depressing times.
    The reports seem to be a permanent archive on Professor Reich’s “Resistance Report” Facebook page, for anyone who would like to check them out.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Happy Birthday

By Moristotle

Greetings to everyone whose birthday is today, particularly to my wife. We celebrated at home, where the weather was perfect for lunching on the back porch, with Siegfried, whose bowl we move to his (lower) table before we sit down to eat.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Poetry & Portraits: Odysseus (a poem)

By Eric Meub


His every sentence pitted mortal thought
against that ruthless, terminating dot,
as if annihilation might precede
a new Aeneid no one needs to read.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Boldt Words & Images: Ham on Nye (a poem)

By Bob Boldt

Bill (the Science Guy) Nye runs into his old nemesis,
Ken Ham, waiting for the Senior Buffet to open at a Delicatessen

in an alternative universe, or Miami Beach (whichever is closer).
Both miscreants are under 65 and not entitled to hog the “Seniors Only” lane.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Correspondence: Yet more Trumpery

Edited by Moristotle

“Trump Accuses Media of Not Reporting Voices He Hears in Head” [Andy Borowitz, New Yorker, February 7]. Excerpt:

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Why so much sestina?

Psychiatry session in sestina

By Moristotle

[This poem was originally published on June 12, 2013, in a time during which I fairly frequently wrote sestinas. As I don’t seem to have written another, the question might now be, “Why no more sestinas?” – a question I intend to answer soon, in my first sestina in three and a half years. I miss writing them!]

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Susan to the Moon

“Tree of Joe” (detail)
By Moristotle

Congratulations to our good friend Susan C. Price (see “Past Members of the Staff” in the sidebar), who has a painting on display in Women Painters West’s “Love in Deed” show, at Topanga Canyon Gallery, open now through February 19, with a reception this coming Sunday afternoon (February 12).

Monday, February 6, 2017

Correspondence: More Trumpery

Part of the “Evolution of Civilizations”
mural in the dome of the main reading room
at the Library of Congress
Edited by Moristotle

Good points by the outstanding NY Times conservative commentator David Brooks: “A Return to National Greatness” [February 3].
    We the People will have to “return to greatness” despite the Trumpestuous interference we are confronting. Excerpt:

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Thunder Down Under: Labels

By Vic Midyett

My DNA heritage is Argentinean, German, French, English, and most proudly, Cherokee. I have predominantly olive skin and in the right circumstance could possibly pass as an Iranian or Middle-Eastern terrorist. What would my label be on sight? What would you call me? “Half-breed”? I have been called that, and so be it, even though it is biologically and mathematically impossible.
    I recall that when I was younger than ten, adults in my father’s home state of Tennessee referred to all African Americans as “niggers.” In my early teenage years I was part of the government’s mandate to desegregate the schools. Suddenly my friendship world grew. My learning, acceptance, tolerance, being better informed, and fun times grew with it. During that time I do not recall ever labeling any of my African American friends by anything other than their given names. The white “adults” in the community, however, still labeled them the same way they always had. This habit gradually diminished, and the label survived mostly as hush-hush and in “safe” circles.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

As the World Turns: Shit storm

By Ed Rogers

I keep waiting for the shit storm to settle down that was released the day Trump won the election. But it seems to get wilder each day – his team is even inventing words to explain the stink coming from the White House. How did Papa Bush— Or was it Reagan who called it a shining city upon a hill? We once knew it as the White House, but I believe it needs a new name now.
    I have been wondering about the people who think the new President is a genius. It’s hard to believe, but there are a lot of them – many more than I would have thought possible. What is bothering me is I’m trying to ascertain if they are crazy or could it be me? Crazy people don’t think they are crazy, so I guess it could be me. After all, he was elected President of the United States. In a way it is easier to believe I am insane and everything is going along just fine.
    If I lived on the West Coast, I could roll a fat one, turn on, and tune out – it worked for me during Nixon’s time in the White House. But now I live in the forward-thinking State of Mississippi. “Go Rebs!” “Hotty Totty!” (For those not in the know, those are cries of football fans at Old Miss.)

Friday, February 3, 2017

Boldt Words & Images: Dreaming a Hurricane (a poem)

By Bob Boldt

What was the name of that girl I stood up
way back then? Julie, June, Jackie?

What difference would it have made anyway?

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Outside the Box: I hate digital technology

By Anonymous

[Editor’s Note: This article would have been an item of correspondence (anonymous, as is the custom in a “Correspondence” column) if it had stopped with the first email we received, but it kept growing...into a longer piece (but still anonymous) just right for “Outside the Box.”]

Correspondence: Trumpery

Edited by Moristotle

After Trump’s executive order , the author of this article visited an icon of welcome for immigrants: “Checking In on Lady Liberty” [Sam Hodgson, NY Times, January 31]. Excerpt: