Thursday, October 31, 2013

Thor's Day: Where philosophy and testimony meet poetry

A review of G.K. Chesterton’s book Orthodoxy

By Kyle Garza

Chesterton’s Orthodoxy stands at a crossroads uncommon in apologetics [the discipline of defending a position (often religious) through the systematic use of information]: it melds several forms of discourse in a way the reviewer did not think possible, for it combines cogent reasoning with testimony and—quite unexpectedly—poetry, and these are listed in this order purposefully for reasons that will soon be explained. The text is a continuation of a dialogue in the early 20th century between Chesterton and his modern philosophical opponents. Having refuted the philosophies and the philosophers of his day in his collection of essays titled Heretics, Chesterton was soon rejoined by a demand to offer an alternative philosophy to the moderns'. Orthodoxy is that offer.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Ask Wednesday: Ask Susan

About elder-abuse

By Susan C. Price

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

I recently visited my parents, who are in their nineties and live on the opposite coast. They are in bad shape! Mom has dementia. Daddy is mean to her. Doesn’t help her. She had not bathed in a couple of months.
    All my life my parents had been physically and emotionally abusive to me and my three sisters. My father used large loans to try and control us. He expected and insisted that I should stick around and care for them.
    Since her stroke and with the dementia, my mother has become a nice person. On this most recent visit, my father even attempted to be loving and actually hugged me!
    The real part that concerns me is that their oldest granddaughter (daughter of one of two deceased siblings) is stealing from them. Hundreds of thousands of dollars. She got Daddy to change his will and cut out the rest of family.
    I don’t care about the estate myself, but don’t you think criminal charges should be filed against the granddaughter? What do you advise? –Kay

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Tuesday Voice: Ne’er so well expressed

Learning from English epigram

By Eric Meub

Words are like leaves; and where they most abound,
Much fruit of sense beneath is rarely found.

                            –Alexander Pope
    Here is a sentiment that many of today’s high school students might heartily commend, at least according to Kyle Garza’s overview of the state of teaching English (see “Tuesday Voice: Our amusing age,” October 1). Our educators are the canaries in our cultural coalmine: we ignore them at our peril. Some of today’s students will go on to lead entertainment and media corporations, or programs for the endowment of the arts, or institutes of higher education. Some will be news anchors or reviewers. A few will become Speaker of the House, or President. Any malaise affecting our youth has potentially drastic ramifications for the culture at large.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Fourth Monday Susan Speaks: Pammie Story #2

Setting the stage: Family life and quirks

By Susan C. Price

[Sequel to “Pammie stories,” published on July 22]

As I mentioned before, Pam was a friend of mine. We met in the early 1970s at work, during her first marriage, to Doug. At this time they lived in Long Beach, and Pam and I worked for the State of California in offices in Downtown Los Angeles. Pam was a very intelligent, educated, cultured, stylish woman of taste. And some refinement. And...not.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Sunday Review: Wish You Were Here

It's complicated

By Morris Dean

Wish You Were Here (2012, directed by Kieran Darcy-Smith) grabbed my attention about as thoroughly as a well-made thriller can, for two particular reasons I can identify:
    The Cambodia setting is both attractive and foreboding. I felt a great tension between the holiday spirit of the four young Australians on vacation and the obvious danger they are exposing themselves to in the teeming streets and bazaars without any apparent awareness of being "marked" by any number of less well-off Asians.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Fourth Saturday's Loneliest Liberal: Four kinds of people

When it comes to challenges

By James Knudsen

“It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.” –Tom Hanks, A League of Their Own

There’s an old saying that goes, “There’s two kinds a people....” Well, I’ve been trying to make this idea work with just two and it ain’t happenin’.
    The way I see it there’s four kinds of people—those who seek challenges, those who avoid challenges, those who accept challenges and then shrink from them, and those who don’t actively seek challenges but when forced to deal with them rise to the occasion.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

Food for thought, or maybe indignation at wealth inequality in America:

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Thor's Day: Trinity

Lego churches
Three churches

By Morris Dean

Because it was Sunday, our rendezvous with my wife's cousin and his family was going to be at their Church of Christ a few miles south of Baltimore. To get there by 1 p.m. from where we live , we got up at 3:30 and left the house at about 5:05. We had been making good time when I took the wheel for another turn at driving, so it looked as though we were going to get there on time despite the growing apprehension I was feeling at the thought of having to darken the doorway of a hard-core Christian church. For surely they weren't just going to come out into the parking lot and we all just drive off together. We were probably going to have to go in and mill around for a while, especially since it had been about ten years since we'd been up to see them.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Ask Wednesday: Jill Auditori on serving in her community's local government

Local government matters

Edited by Morris Dean

Jill Auditori is a member of the City Council of Mebane, North Carolina. She is one of the most helpful people we have encountered in government, and we've enjoyed conversing with her. We are grateful that she made time to be interviewed on Moristotle & Co. [Our questions are set in italics.]

Jill, what was it about you or your background that led to your running for City Council?
    After I opened my business in downtown Mebane 13 years ago, I was drawn by a strong desire to become involved in our community, and ultimately, in local politics. I attended city council meetings regularly for many years—it is a great way to stay on top of local issues and discussions—and ultimately decided that I wanted to play a greater role in the decisions being made and the direction our town was taking.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Tuesday Voice: The mule ride

By Ed Rogers

It was a cool September day. The warm days of summer were but a memory.
    The cotton had been picked, the corn and peanuts harvested. School had started and I was only going to the farm on the weekends.
    Each Sunday someone would come out to the farm and take me back to town. I hated to say good-bye to Herbert and Willie. Herbert was twelve years old, I was eleven, and Willie was ten. The farm was our kingdom. This was where I had fun and had some of the happiest days of my life. In town there was just school. I had a few friends, but none as close as Herbert and Willie. The Gillum family lived in a little house on my great grandparent’s farm. The land was leased to a Mr. Sprayberry, and had been for a number of years. Herbert and his family worked for him.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Obit of a legend in his own mind

By Ed Rogers

This blog has lost a voice (still very much alive) that I have enjoyed over a span of time. We challenged each other on subject after subject. At times his style came across as being over the hill or out of line, but he got your attention; he made you think!

Third Monday Random

Thoughts from behind the (handle) bars

By motomynd

Why is that idiot tailgating me? That is what I think about too much of the time while riding a motorcycle. How many cagers [Editor’s note: drivers of four-wheel vehicles] know that the reason motorcyclists are usually in the left lane and accelerating is we all operate on the basic premise that if cagers can’t catch us, they can’t kill us? Almost 100% of my riding is done in areas with strict “no texting while driving” laws. Yet half the vehicles I pass seem to have someone behind the wheel texting while driving.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sunday Review: Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fight

A court chambers drama

By Morris Dean

Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fight (HBO October 5, 2013, directed by Stephen Frears) isn't about any of heavyweight boxing champion aka Cassius Clay's fights in the ring, or his struggle with Parkinson's Disease. And, in a way, it isn't even about Muhammad Ali exactly. It's about the 1971 fight inside the chambers of the United States Supreme Court Justices as they argue whether to hear the boxer's appeal of a lower-court ruling upholding his being stripped of his championship title and kicked out of boxing for refusing to serve in the Vietnam War by reason of his membership in the Nation of Islam (the Black Muslims). The case is Clay v. United States.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Third Saturday Fiction

Walking the Dog
(a short story)

By Steve Glossin

Farley was a small-time hustler and occasional thief who fancied himself a scam artist extraordinaire. His moneymaking larks were on the edge of brilliance, though more often than not their execution took a wrong step or Murphy’s Law intervened. The unexpected failures would have made another man want to don a monk’s habit and go into seclusion—but not Farley. Mr. Optimistic saw a rainbow on every street corner and was continually chasing the pot of gold that he felt was his due—if he could only get that one big break.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

Our classmate's son John's new book, The Last Ocean: Antarctica's Ross Sea Project: Saving the Most Pristine Ecosystem on Earth, is now out. John is committed to promoting ocean conservation. The book is full of amazing photographs, all of which are available as fine prints, and wonderful essays, as he is an excellent writer. John also has a website, and his sobering 9-minute film about "the last ocean" can be seen on YouTube:

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Thor's Days: Why denomination matters

By Anonymous

A man walked into the ladies' department of a Macy's and shyly told the woman behind the counter, "I'd like to buy a bra for my wife."
    "What type of bra?" she asked.
    "Type?—Is there more than one?"

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Ask Wednesday: Ask Susan

About a husband who looks at other women

By Susan C. Price

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

My husband looks at my best friend too often. Should I be jealous? –Penny

Nope. Jealousy is pretty dang useless.
    Hubby comes home and stays with YOU, not with your best friend. You probably don’t notice/see when he looks at you. What’s “too often”?
    Most men look... it doesn’t usually mean much about their actual state of attraction…let alone what they are doing, or going to do. As the conversation in “Plain and Fancy” (an old musical comedy) went:

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Tuesday Voice: The Byron Wilson I knew

He opened up my world

By Ed Rogers

My Uncle Byron had been sick for as long as I could remember. I say, “Uncle Byron,” but for some reason I can’t remember ever calling him anything but “Byron.”
    My Uncle had Parkinson’s disease. His hands would shake so bad he couldn’t feed himself.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Second Monday Music: Rila Music Exchange 2013

(L-R) Laura, Dessislava, Valeria, & Sofia
(at the American University in Bulgaria, April 2011)
How to put this without being overly dramatic?

By Geoffrey Dean

To say that it all began when Sofia introduced us to Myriam would be plausible enough. But the genesis of the Rila Music Exchange goes further back, back to when Laura introduced us to Sofia. When Laura, an American, had come to Plovdiv, Bulgaria in the fall of 2010 to study folk music at the Academy of Music and Dance Art, she ended up rooming with a young Swedish woman named Sofia who was there for the same reason.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Sunday Review: Our Idiot Brother

Naive flower child meets uptight real world

By Morris Dean

We watched a VERY DELIGHTFUL movie Wednesday night: Our Idiot Brother (2011, story and direction by Jesse Peretz). I know, stupid-sounding title, but it's a fine comedy, with serious inner lining.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Second Saturday's Sonnet


By Eric Meub

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 11, 2013

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

I thought you might like to see the TV interview about my book, Fall in Love with an Orange Tree or a Book, which I did for the show, California Life with Heather Dawson.
    My book is the story of a young illegal immigrant and the shadow world in which she lives as she tries to continue her education and support her family.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Thor's Day: The Christian Right

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, talks to reporters
And its cult of masculinity

By Morris Dean

I didn't write the column I'd like to edify you with today. It's a fascinating piece written by Chris Hedges, a journalist specializing in American politics and society—his article, "The Radical Christian Right and the War on Government," which was published on October 6 on the news website TruthDig: Drilling beneath the Headlines.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Ask Wednesday: Ask Susan

About a granddaughter who won't talk to you anymore

By Susan C. Price

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

My granddaughter doesn’t talk to me anymore. I don’t know how to make up with her. Can you advise me? I’m not sure what the problem is. –[Penny]

Dear Penny, so very sorry. I understand how painful this is.
    Good start that you DON’T know what the problem/issue is. That suggests your mind is open. Let’s hope that your granddaughter’s mind gets open as well.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Tuesday Voice


By Eric Meub

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.

Monday, October 7, 2013

First Monday with Characters

Used to be Left Hand Canyon Road
Edited by Morris Dean

Chuck Smythe above the Great Flood
On Monday night, September 23, it began to rain. The forecast was a few hours of light drizzle. We woke up the next morning to a driving, tropical downpour, the sort that just doesn’t happen in Eastern Colorado. It continued all day Tuesday, all day Wednesday. On Thursday it rained the longest and hardest I’ve seen since New Zealand, nine inches in a single day. It rained all day Friday.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Sunday Review: The Girl

Will the real Alfred Hitchcock please step forward

By Morris Dean

The title of Julian Jarrold's 2012 HBO film about Alfred Hitchcock and the making of his two films The Birds (1963) and Marnie (1964) refers to the 33-year-old actress Tippi Hedron. According to the movie and presumably to the book on which the film is based—Donald Spoto's 2009 Spellbound by Beauty: Alfred Hitchcock and His Leading Ladies—Hitchcock had seen a television advertisement featuring Ms. Hedron and told an assistant, "I want that girl."

Saturday, October 5, 2013

First Saturday Green 101

Passing summer on a country road

By motomynd

Several times a week my wife and I walk or run the section of country road that curls past our home in Central North Carolina. We used to drive 30 minutes round trip to take to the trails of a local state park or a former dirt track raceway. This year we decided to explore closer to home and establish a better sense of place for where we now live.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

Madison Kimrey speaks about her petition to North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory: "Let’s Sit Down and Enjoy a Snack Together." The following video will be featured for "International Day of the Girl: A Message to the United Nations":

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Thor's Day: Church lite

John Calvin Lite
Serious humor

By Anonymous

Has the heaviness of your old-fashioned church got you weighted down? Try us! We are the New and Improved Lite Church of the Valley. Studies have shown we have 24 percent fewer commitments than other churches.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Ask Wednesday: Ask Susan

About how to advise someone thinking about getting married

By Susan C. Price

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

The son of a friend is planning to get engaged and married. As an older person, I have so much knowledge gained...from my own life and observation of others. I have seen what appear to be basic "failure to discuss" divorce-producing flaws in so many relationships. Even couples who have lived together before a wedding, can find that the traditional assumptions about "marriage" can make for problems once the reception is over. What would YOU suggest these young people review before they commit? –Anonymous

Hmm, always tricky to give advice that has NOT been asked for. Try this:

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Tuesday Voice: Our amusing age

Why this snazzy title might not be enough to pique your interest

By Kyle Garza

In 1858, Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas engaged in public discourse that we have today converted into a format for competitive debate in high schools throughout the United States. Even before the Lincoln-Douglas debates, the two had engaged in open-air discourse at local fairs that usually ran in a format resembling this: Douglas would deliver his speech for three hours; Lincoln would respond for a few hours; each candidate would take about an hour for cross-examination. Once, on October 16, 1854, in Peoria, Illinois, Lincoln told his audience to just go home and have dinner before he began his speech because it was already 5 p.m. The people went home, had dinner, and cordially returned for four more hours of oratory spectacle. Nowadays you’ll see this exchange on TV: “Mr. President, what are you going to do about _______________? You have two minutes to respond.” What happened in the last 160 years?