Friday, October 24, 2014

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

In the same week American sports fans were understandably agog about Peyton Manning setting the record for career touchdown passes, by throwing 509 TDs in 56 fewer games than it took former record holder Brett Favre, the world barely noticed that another exclusive milestone was reached. Suni, one of only two breeding male northern white rhinos left in the world, died at age 34 in a preserve in Kenya: "One Of 7 Northern White Rhinos Left In The World Dies In Kenya." Excerpt:

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Thor's Day: Dancing

Not irreligious

By Anonymous

A Mormon missionary dance-off with a Michael Jackson imitator has been caught on camera:

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Ask Wednesday: Who visited your fountain recently?

Uncropped so you can see the arc of
the field scope lens [click to enlarge]
Look at my photos

By Morris Dean

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Tuesday Voice: Busselton, Western Australia

Where you will find the longest wooden pier in the southern hemisphere

By Vic Midyett

The beautiful little town of Busselton (population about 22,000) is just over 30 miles south of where we're now living, in Bunbury.
    Some excerpts from Wikipedia's generous article:

Monday, October 20, 2014

Third Monday Musing: On an irony of the creation of something from nothing

Its paradoxical aesthetic asymmetry

By Rolf Dumke

What fun to read your philosophical-historical query on why is there something rather than nothing!
    Modern physicists have indeed analyzed why there is something. According to the latest theories, the initial Big Bang should have created exactly the same amount of matter and anti-matter – i.e., in symmetry – at the first moment of explosion. And these should have immediately combined to eliminate each other, eliminating everything that had been created in the first tenzillionth squared of a second.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sunday Review: How Jesus Became God (book)

It all started with his supposed resurrection

By Morris Dean

The Nicene creed includes the affirmation that
I one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all in Being with the Father.
That is, Jesus is believed to have always been God. There is some irony, then, in the title of Bart D. Ehrman's 2014 book, How Jesus Became God, which refers not to the fact of Jesus's being God, but to the belief. How did that belief come about?

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Third Saturday Fiction

Chapter 23. Fort Carson, from the novel Boystown

By Ed Rogers

[Feeling the Colombian drug cartel's heat, James Hamilton has enlisted to get as far away from them as possible. Previous excerpt, "The High Country," published here on August 30.]

The NCO at the recruiting station promised me the moon and first shot at his daughter if I signed up right then. I got the feeling that even in the poor part of town, kids weren’t eager to fight in a war. The fact that I had dodged the draft and could trace all my troubles back to that decision hadn’t eluded my attention. I was fully prepared to go to jail for my beliefs, but that wasn’t what the Colombians had in mind. I explained to the Sergeant that I had been living outside of the U.S. and didn’t have a draft card. I told him I hadn’t been home in a few years and never received a letter from any draft board.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

Paul Krugman's surprise: "In Defense of Obama," Rolling Stone. Excerpt:
Obama was indeed naive: He faced scorched-earth Republican opposition from Day One, and it took him years to start dealing with that opposition realistically. Furthermore, he came perilously close to doing terrible things to the U.S. safety net in pursuit of a budget Grand Bargain; we were saved from significant cuts to Social Security and a rise in the Medicare age only by Republican greed, the GOP's unwillingness to make even token concessions.
    But now the shoe is on the other foot: Obama faces trash talk left, right and center – literally – and doesn't deserve it. Despite bitter opposition, despite having come close to self-inflicted disaster, Obama has emerged as one of the most consequential and, yes, successful presidents in American history. His health reform is imperfect but still a huge step forward – and it's working better than anyone expected. Financial reform fell far short of what should have happened, but it's much more effective than you'd think. Economic management has been half-crippled by Republican obstruction, but has nonetheless been much better than in other advanced countries. And environmental policy is starting to look like it could be a major legacy.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Thor's Day: Holy humor 5

By Anonymous

Edited by Morris Dean

We keep the Holy Cow in the barn and the Holy Mackerel in the lake...I guess I don't have to tell you what we keep in....

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Ask Wednesday: What else did you see or do at Neubeuern besides visit the millstone quarry?

Hardly enough

By Morris Dean

[Sequel to "What of great interest didn't you report from Bavaria?," October 1]

When we went to Rosenheim, a few miles southeast of Munich, to visit Rolf & Susan Dumke, we had never heard of the little town of Neubeuern. And I don't think we ever would have except that the millstone quarry was near there. Rolf & Susan took us into the town's historic district, which we entered through one of the district's old city gates before parking in the town square, very near the parish Church of the Immaculate Conception:

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Tuesday Voice: Posthumously speaking 5

"Flowers in a Blue Vase" (detail)
Paintings domestic and wild

By Mary Alice Condley (1925-2007)

[Editor's Note: Today's four paintings belong to the artist's sister Patsy Ruth Garza.
    Three paintings in the collection of the artist's daughter were shown on September 30.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Second Monday Music: Interpretative layers

Young Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904)
Of the music of Antonín Dvořák

By Geoffrey Dean

The Czech romantic composer Antonín Dvořák gained international popularity in the late 1870s, when his first set of Slavonic Dances was published at the recommendation of Johannes Brahms. Like so many other works by Dvořák, the Slavonic Dances use characteristic folk rhythms coupled with catchy folk-like tunes that were invented by Dvořák rather than being quoted from existing music. Dvořák used a similar combination of borrowing and invention when he came to the United States in 1892 and set out to show American composers how they might create an American-sounding classical music – a national school of composition similar to the ones that had emerged in Russia and Dvořák’s own Bohemia.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Sunday Review: Four quick takes

A movie, two documentaries, and a TV series

By Morris Dean

Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley (aka "Moms Mabley: I Got Somethin' to Tell You," 2013)
    My wife remembered Moms Mabley (1894-1975) as I did, as a bawdy, toothless old black comedian you couldn't dislike for being completely spellbound by her. (She also reminded me of my mother, who didn't have any teeth either.) We didn't know anything else about Moms. She was performing in the twenties, so when we saw her on television in the fifties or sixties (we don't remember when precisely), she was around 60-70. We didn't know she had been raped (more than once). We didn't know that off-stage, she was "Mr. Mom."

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Second Saturday's Sonnet


By Eric Meub

[Originally published on October 12, 2013]

Of course you’ll dine on anything: Good Dog.
What is the world to you but meat and grog?
According to philosophy you chew
because you’re finite: that’s what finite systems do.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Fish for Friday

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper
(1825-1911), abolitionist,
poet, and author
Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

History is bunk? "Why the GOP hates U.S. history: Inconvenient truths that freak out American conservatives." The right is losing its mind over new testing standards that aren't "patriotic" enough. Time for a history lesson! Opening paragraphs:

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Thor's Day: Natural selection

Charles Darwin (1809-1882)
A scientific myth

By Kyle Garza

The qualities of a good mythological tale are easily recognizable to anyone. Personified powers or forces like gods of war or love vie for power or control in a great cosmic hierarchy. Some rise and some fall, but progress is always being made. Today, we assume that in the sophisticated, intellectual culture of the 21st century, with our scientific advancement and progress, we have left these archaic beliefs in the superstitious dust where they belong.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Ask Wednesday: Ask Susan

Which boyfriend should I go with?

By Susan C. Price

[Questions are followed by answers and then, inevitably by DID expect that...didn’t you?]

My live-in boyfriend of six years and I have a child together. The child wasn't planned but he stood by me. However, a few months ago I found I was pregnant again and he insisted this time that I have an abortion. He gave valid reasons: money, apartment too small, etc., so reluctantly I went along with it.
    But since the day of the procedure he has not been supportive at all, even though I've told him how against it I was and how upset and guilty I feel. His brother, whom I've known longer than him, went through something similar last year, and he has been very understanding and my rock these last few months...and I've fallen in love with him.
    When I told him, he said he feels the same and wants us to take my child [by his brother] and run away together to start a new life. What am I to do? I know he'll look after us better than his brother did, and he also wants his own children with me. But I still love my live-in boyfriend! –Ms. Live In

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Tuesday Voice: Missionary Kid

Book in preparation

By Vic Midyett

As you know from previous "Missionary Kid" stories, I grew up in India to American missionary parents.

Monday, October 6, 2014

First Monday with Characters

Edited by Morris Dean

Tom Lowe, in remembrance
Fella by the name of Clemens complained years ago, “The coldest Winter I ever spent was a Summer in San Francisco”....He left too soon. From the middle of September to around Thanksgiving the Bay Area experiences the warmest part of its year. That’s where we are right now, with afternoon temperatures in the mid-eighties some days, and foggy mornings. A good season to get some work done, I’m hoping. Finishing my “Spring cleaning” would be a start.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Sunday Review: Boystown: Ride the Cocaine Highway North (novel)

Now available as a Kindle book

By Morris Dean

You may not recognize the title as that of the novel from which three chapters have been published here and identified simply as from Boystown, but it's the same book, by the same writer – our contributing editor Ed Rogers. Another difference, besides the subtitle specially added for Kindle, is that Ed's first name isn't capitalized on the cover. Ed explains:

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Thirst Satyrday for Eros: Love in a cold climate

Original letterpress print for a Nancy Mitford novel
Does Hell give off or absorb heat?

By Anonymous

Edited by Morris Dean

[The following is alleged to be an actual question given on a University of Arizona chemistry midterm, and an actual answer turned in by a student. It didn't start out to have anything at all to do with Eros, unless by a circuitous route of associations having to do with love...death...heaven...hell.]

For Bonus Points: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)?

Friday, October 3, 2014

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

490,000 square miles! Ocean Conservancy's Ocean Action News: We Did It: The U.S. Creates the World’s Largest Marine Protected Area. President Obama has expanded the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument to include more than 490,000 square miles!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Thor's Day: Believing what makes us feel good

We're not free to do it

By Morris Dean

Something I said last week has been on my mind a lot since. I mentioned that I come from a large family of true Christian believers, and that's a big reason religion has played a pivotal role in my own life, going right back to Mother's knee, where I was schooled in emotional Pentecostal religion.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Ask Wednesday: What of great interest didn't you report from Bavaria?

The millstone quarry above Neubeuern

By Morris Dean

After reading last week's column ("What did you do on your summer vacation?"), my friend Rolf Dumke, whom we visited our first full day in Bavaria (he's pictured here pointing), emailed me that he was "a bit disappointed that [I] ignored the millstone quarry above Altenbeuern [Old Beuern], an unusual and symbolic world event." Altenbeuern seems forgotten; now it's Neubeuern (which we visited – but more about that another time perhaps).

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Tuesday Voice: Posthumously speaking 4

"Blue Daisies" (detail)
Paintings on request

By Mary Alice Condley (1925-2007)

[Editor's Note: Today's three paintings belong to the artist's daughter, Karen Abbey, who requested her mother to paint "Blue Daisies" & "Kettle & Oranges" especially for her.
    Two paintings in the collection of the artist's brother were shown on September 9.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Fifth Monday Fiction

Excerpt from a novel in progress

By Michael Hanson

[Editor’s Note: Raymond is still 40, still grieving the death of his mother (JP), and he remembers. A previous excerpt appeared on June 30.]

This business of shifting my brain’s focus when I don’t like the direction it’s taking causes a certain internal conflict: while it can keep me from obsessing over morose matters (the harrowing ordeal of my mom’s death, for instance, or all the wish-I-hads I haul around now that she’s gone), maybe I’m just dodging the truth, refusing to face what’s really happening, regardless how uncomfortable it might make me. What’s the difference between what I’m doing, in other words, and an alcoholic turning to the bottle, or a TV junky burying his brain in “reality shows” rather than taking the time to look long and hard at what’s happening in his very own life?

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Fourth Sunday through Tom's Looking Glass

From the trenches of social change

By Tom Lowe

[Editor's Note: We are pleased to inaugurate a new monthly column featuring the photographs of Contributing Editor Tom Lowe.]

These photos from 2006 are from my involvement in the San Francisco Bay Area communities – social, political, and creative – I worked with that year. Basically, I shoot what catches my eye, people who bring passion and commitment to helping their fellows.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Fourth Saturday's Loneliest Liberal: He’d be expelled, we’d all be arrested

And I’d be dead

By James Knudsen

I’ll confess to not being completely up to speed on the difficulties associated with raising children in the 21st century. I imagine it has not gotten any easier. Time especially seems to be in short supply as parents try to cram 27 hours of raising, parenting, and rearing into 24 hours. And time is already limited for a child. If you live the average and only 18 of those years are considered by law to be “child” years, that’s definitely a fraction of the total. And then there are those who aren’t even children for that long. So many lessons to learn and mistakes to make as part of that learning. That last part is something that has made raising children more difficult – mistakes. They aren’t allowed anymore. It’s a good thing I grew up when I did.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

This is one of the best Jon Stewart commentaries...EVER! "Must-see morning clip: Jon Stewart gloriously schools GOP on climate change." Excerpt:

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Thor's Day: If you're out there somewhere

Happy birthday, Mary Alice Condley

By Morris Dean

Today is my sister Mary Alice Condley's birthday. She would have been 89 (1925-2007). I am confident that almost everyone who knew Mary would agree with our sister Patsy's estimation of her as "the sweetest, kindest, most caring person [they] have ever known."

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Ask Wednesday: What did you do on your summer vacation?

We went to Europe

By Morris Dean

Early this year we purchased tickets to fly from Charlotte to Sofia (by way of Munich) to visit our son and take in the Rila Music Exchange 2014. As it transpired, our son wasn't going to be in Bulgaria for the event. What to do? Our air tickets were nonrefundable. I was okay with simply not using them. The money's spent, so cut your losses.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Tuesday Voice: Where Europeans first set foot in Australia

Shirley's bench (detail)
Albany, Western Australia

By Vic Midyett

In August, on our way home from our 3-year sabbatical as gray nomads, Shirley and I spent a few days in Albany, at the southern end of Western Australia. I first came here in 1975, when the whaling station was in full swing.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Fourth Monday Susan Speaks

The writing seminar

By Susan C. Price

[Please do not take what follows as...truth, or...should you know the teacher...anything but my personal views. Don’t tattle to the teacher.]

Two close friends felt my writing about my pal Pam was so good that I should “make it into a book...add some stuff on Mom and more about dementia.” (eww, I thought...requires research)

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Third Saturday Fiction

Chapter 22. The High Country, from the novel Boystown

By Ed Rogers

[James Hamilton has had to abandon his business and flee Mexico to avoid being killed by a Colombian drug cartel. Previous excerpt, "Santa Teresa," published here on August 30.]

Northern California is not like any other part of the state. I crossed the Golden Gate Bridge about six in the morning, a light fog hung over the water. As usual, there was a chill in the air, but fortunately, I wore my full leathers. Most of the traffic came across the bridge from the north at that time of day. The line of cars looked like ants as they broke from the darkness of the tunnel into the gray morning light. Each little soldier, sadly in search of a dream that required them to spend eight hours locked in an office. Then at the end of the day they would make the drive back across the bridge and start over tomorrow.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Fish for Friday

[Click to read text]
Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

And in the beginning, and in times since, Americans have always created a god who suits their purposes: "5 ways America changed God." Excerpt:

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Thor's Day: Holy humor 4

By Anonymous

Edited by Morris Dean

During these serious and troubled times, people of all faiths should remember these four great religious truths:
  1. Muslims do not recognize Jews as God's Chosen People.
  2. Jews do not recognize Jesus as the Messiah.
  3. Protestants do not recognize the Pope as the leader of the Christian world.
  4. Baptists do not recognize each other at the liquor store.
Copyright © 2014 by Morris Dean

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Tuesday Voice: Faces of Berkeley Politics 2014

By Tom Lowe

For my latest photo project, I took my camera to the Kriss Worthington campaign kickoff on Berkeley's City Hall steps.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Second Saturday's Sonnet


By Eric Meub

[Originally published on October 8, 2013]

The raven’s more than hoarse by now, he’s dead
of boredom. Duncan’s come again, fifth time,
and I’ve put fresh sheets on the sofabed
for Mac and me, sleepwalking past our prime.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Fish for Friday

Eyjafjallajökull - a "little" volcano - erupting in 2010
Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

Travel Planning: "Just To Let You All Know...." Excerpt:
... since it's gotten about zero coverage (it gets almost no hits on Google News)....
    It's a beautiful day here in Iceland. The weather is crisp. Clear skies over almost the whole country. Light breezes. Potential erupting globally-super-dangerous volcano. Chirping birds. The usual
    Oh, did I bury the lead that a globally-super-dangerous volcano might be getting ready to go off? Um, yeah, you might want to watch this one just in case....

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Thor's Day: Holy humor 3

By Anonymous

Edited by Morris Dean

When my daughter, Kelli, said her bedtime prayers, she would bless every family member, every friend, and every animal (current and past). For several weeks, after we had finished the nightly prayer, Kelli would say, "And all girls."
    This soon became part of her nightly routine, to include this closing. My curiosity got the best of me and I asked her, "Kelli, why do you always add the part about all girls?"
    Her response: "Because everybody always finish their prayers by saying 'All men'!"

Copyright © 2014 by Morris Dean

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Ask Wednesday: Ask Susan

I've moved on, but how can I get her to move on?

By Susan C. Price

[Questions are followed by answers and then, inevitably by DID expect that...didn’t you?]

My boyfriend cheated on me with a girl who lives near him. At first he denied it, but she somehow got my name and cell phone number and contacted me to expose him. I finished with him immediately but he is still contacting me and begging me to take him back. He says he is really sorry and won't do it again, but I've decided to go my own way without him.
    The problem is that the girl is still contacting me with abusive messages and calls. I don't want to get into a fight with her because I've moved on. But what should I do? I can't change my number, I use it for work. –Moved On

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Tuesday Voice: Posthumously speaking 3

Still life with onions (detail)
Paintings from love of light

By Mary Alice Condley (1925-2007)

[Editor's Note: The two paintings shown today are in the collection of the editor, the artist's only brother.
    Three paintings in the collections of the artist's grandson Stephen Denham & granddaughter Jo Condley Snyder were shown on August 26.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Second Monday Music: The marvel who was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Two anecdotes

Edited by Morris Dean

[The following anecdotes I found in a short search of the World-Wide Web.]

Mozart's young memory:
Part of the service used in the Pope's chapel at Rome is sacredly guarded and kept with great care in the archives of the chapel. Any singer found tampering with this Miserere of Allegri, or giving a note of it to an outsider, would be visited by excommunication. Only three copies of this service have ever been sent out. One was for the Emperor Leopold, another to the King of Portugal, and the third to the celebrated musician, Padre Martini.
    But there was one copy that was made without the Pope's orders, and not by a member of the choir either.
    When Mozart was taken to Rome in his youth, by his father, he went to the service at St. Peter's and heard the service in all its impressiveness. Mozart, senior, could hardly arouse the lad from his fascination with the music, when the time came to leave the cathedral.
    That night after they had retired and the father slept, the boy stealthily arose and by the bright light of the Italian moon, wrote out the whole of that sacredly guarded Miserere. The Pope's locks, bars, and excommunications gave no safety against a memory like Mozart's. [Web source]

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Thirst Satyrday for Eros: Understanding Eros

...merits ardent investigation

By Jim Rix

It’s been awhile since I studied the Greek gods, but here’s what I remember about them in relation to Eros (the God of Love and Sexual Desire). Eros is the son of Aphrodite (the Goddess of Love, Beauty, Sexuality, Pleasure, Procreation, etc.), who was born when Cronus (a first-generation Titan) cut off Uranus (the God of the Sky’s) balls and threw them into the sea, out of which Aphrodite arose from Aphros (the God of Sea Foam). (Those ancient Greeks had a God for everything.)

Friday, September 5, 2014

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

Know this from Campbell:
Jesus, for example, can be regarded as a man who by dint of austerities and meditation attained wisdom; or on the other hand, one may believe that a god descended and took upon himself the enactment of a human career. The first view would lead one to imitate the master literally, in order to break through, in the same way as he, to the transcendent, redemptive experience. But the second states that the hero is rather a symbol to be contemplated rather than an example to be literally followed. The divine being is a revelation of the omnipotent Self, which dwells within us all. The contemplation of the life thus should be undertaken as a meditation on one's own immanent divinity, not as a prelude to precise imitation, the lesson being not "Do thus and be good," but "Know this and be God." –Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces (p. 275, revised 3rd edition, New World Library; p.319, 2nd edition, Princeton/Bollingen paperback)

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Thor's Day: A new proof for the non-divinity of Jesus or the errancy of the Bible

One or the other

By Morris Dean

On a walk this morning, on the day of my writing this (August 3), I realized that the second installment of "Christian-atheist conversation: About Christianity’s non-'holy days'" [published on August 7] revealed a new proof for the non-divinity of Jesus or the errancy of the Bible, one or the other. Here's how it goes:

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Ask Wednesday: Why is there something rather than nothing?

Who's asking?

By Morris Dean

As far as I can remember, I didn't wonder as a child why there was something rather than nothing, and I don't remember hearing anyone voice the question. I believe I came upon it for the first time at age 19, in a book by German philosopher Martin HeideggerIntroduction to Metaphysics (from a 1935 lecture).

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Tuesday Voice: Esperance, Western Australia

Watching it all from our place

By Vic Midyett

On our way from South Australia back to our home base of Bunbury, Western Australia, after three years away as "gray nomads," Shirley & I stopped at Esperance for a few days.

Monday, September 1, 2014

First Monday with Characters

Edited by Morris Dean

James Knudsen, in the garden
You're probably thinking, “enough with the bugs already!” But, this fellow... fella, I suspect it's a she, charmed me. She has made her home in the patch of mint off the back porch that has been there since my youth. And if you're wondering about the orientation of the picture, that's how I snapped it. Praying mantis' seem to enjoy hanging around upside down. They really do move in a three-dimensional way, forward/back, right/left, up/down. At some point this mantis decided, via her well-developed, binocular, stereoscopic vision, that I was nothing to be concerned about and started cleaning her forelimbs. That's what the camera has captured here.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Fifth Saturday Fiction

Chapter 16. Santa Teresa, from the novel Boystown

By Ed Rogers

[The first-person narrator is James Hamilton, a Vietnam draft dodger and entrepreneur. In this chapter he’s flying with his friend Jay, who sometimes flies for the C.I.A., to pick up product and distribute cash. Previous excerpt, "The Hippie Experience," published here on March 15.]

Behind us the demons wrought hell on earth, but once again the jaws of death hadn’t closed fast enough. The night sky was clear and beautiful. I looked at Jay—his shirt was black from the sweat. My own shirt clung to me and sweat ran down my back, and the top of my jeans felt wet. “I’ll bet we lost ten pounds fighting that damn storm.”