Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Ask Wednesday: Ask Susan

How can we protect our mother's money from a sibling she can't refuse to write checks for?

By Susan C. Price

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

After the death of our father, a younger brother has taken advantage of our mother (who is 80) to help himself to her money. He has already gotten almost $40,000, including getting her to pay for a new truck for him. She can't refuse him. He lives nearby. An older brother lives in the next state. I’m the only daughter and live about 20 miles away.
    To stop the younger brother somehow, I arranged with Mom at her bank to become a required co-signer on her checks. But she doesn't like the inconvenience, and she asked me yesterday if I would sign some blank ones. I said I wouldn't, because that would be the same as my not signing at all and the younger brother would have relatively easy access to more of her money.
    Today it got worse because Mom brought blank checks for me to sign even though I've said time and again I wouldn't. She got mad and said she will forge my signature. I think it was her diminished mind talking mainly.
    To top it off, the younger brother called today and wants to come see me. I hadn't heard anything from him since a few weeks back, when he texted me, "F--k you, Little Hitler!" for trying to protect our mother's money from him. I really don't want to see or talk to him, as I don't trust him. Mom will just have to stay mad if she wants to, but I know what he is capable of. He has told me and the other brother about cussing Mom & Dad and flipping them off in their faces, etc. I am sure he is capable of violence. My older brother and I want this to STOP. Life has been hard enough without this too.
    What should we do? –Dee

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Tuesday Voice: A sixth red herring of the healthcare biz

Risk factors

By Jim Rix

The idiom “red herring” is used to mislead, to distract, to obscure the truth. And the truth, sad to say, is frequently not profitable for some businesses. And businesses that do not make a profit do not survive. The healthcare biz is no exception. Curing patients all too often is not profitable, while treating patients forever is. After all, it’s called “healthCARE” not “healthCURE.” As a result, many red herrings abound in the healthcare biz.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Fourth Monday Susan Speaks

Still working at retirement

By Susan C. Price

So now I am about one year into my full retirement, still surprised at what a difference I feel from the part-time work schedule I was on for 10 years. When a friend needed my organizational / administrative assistant abilities earlier this year, I cautioned her that it would be temporary help. And I was surprised to find how strongly I adhered to that limit. I have no, no, no desire to work. No desire to be expected to regularly show up at any work or volunteer site/activity.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Sunday Review: Wadjda

Saudi Arabian firsts

By Morris Dean

Wadjda (2012 [2013, US], in Arabic with English subtitles) is the first feature film made in Saudi Arabia, and its writer-director, Haifaa al-Mansour, is the first female filmmaker in Saudi Arabia. She had to go elsewhere for the education she wanted (in literature at the American University in Cairo, and in directing and film studies at the University of Sydney), and elsewhere to work with and learn from professional filmmakers.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Fourth Saturday's Loneliest Liberal

Light in a bucket

By James Knudsen
And the traveler in the dark
Thanks you for your tiny spark.
He could not see where to go,
If you did not twinkle so.

Twinkle, twinkle little star,
How I wonder what you are.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

Russia has a larger surface area than Pluto.
    Pluto never made a full orbit around the sun from the time it was discovered to when it was declassified as a planet.
    If you shrunk the sun down to the size of a white blood cell and shrunk the Milky Way Galaxy down using the same scale, it would be the size of the continental United States.
    It rains diamonds on Saturn and Jupiter.
    Also, that's what Jupiter would look like [see above] if it were as close to us as the Moon is.
    If a piece of paper were folded 42 times, it would reach to the moon.
    If you dug a hole to the center of the Earth and dropped a book down, it would take 42 minutes to reach the bottom

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Thor's Day: Mark Twain down to earth

Does the Bible lie?

By Morris Dean

Mark Twain [Samuel Langhorne Clemens, 1835-1910] wrote in his posthumously published book Letters from the Earth that the Bible
is full of interest. It has noble poetry in it; and some clever fables; and some blood-drenched history; and some good morals; and a wealth of obscenity; and upwards of a thousand lies.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Ask Wednesday: Stephen Greenblatt on Shakespeare's 450th birthday

Let's celebrate!

Edited by Morris Dean

Stephen Greenblatt is the John Cogan University Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University. He is also a general editor of The Norton Anthology of English Literature and the general editor of The Norton Shakespeare.
    As a classmate of Steve's at Yale, I felt I could call on him to help us celebrate Shakespeare's birthday today, and he graciously agreed. Thank you, Steve! [Our questions are in italics.]

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Tuesday Voice: Missionary Kid

Night Elephant

By Vic Midyett

One dark, moonless night, when my sister Anita and I were kids in India, we were riding with our missionary parents on a windy gravel road with thick jungle on either side. Our Jeep truck had about a 15-inch wide pine board going across the width of the vehicle behind Mom and Dad's two seats. This is where Anita and I slept lying in opposite directions.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Third Monday Musing


By Eric Meub

You probably know everything you need to know about Shakespeare’s Sonnets. Not too long ago I thought I did too. My Norton Anthology of English Poetry contains thirty of them. (My Complete Poems and Plays of William Shakespeare includes them all, of course, but I have a hard time turning such thin pages, so I favor the Norton.) As of a month or so ago, I had read probably half of the thirty, including some skimming. In the numbering of the Sonnets one can see that Shakespeare wrote quite a few (154 of them, in fact, when I glanced at the notes), but thirty were enough for me. Could there really, I thought, be anything profoundly different in the other 124? Shakespeare’s Sonnets are such a cornerstone of culture: don’t we all know them, to some extent, the way we know the Mona Lisa?

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Sunday Review: Grace Unplugged

Clean, family fare

By Morris Dean

It's Easter, so – why not? – let's review a "Christian film." Grace of Grace Unplugged (2013, directed by Brad J. Silverman) is teenager Grace Trey, daughter of Johnny Trey, who years ago, before he "found Christ," was a minor rock star with one song that rose briefly to #3 on some chart or other. Now he and Grace perform with their church band, where Grace's occasional attempts to sing or play in her own way are suppressed by her father, who reminds her that it's not about her, they are there to worship.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Third Saturday Fiction

Chapters 14-15, Paris, from the novel Death Mask

By Steve Glossin

[Relics have been stolen from the grave of Tupac Amaru, the Last Inca. The lead archaeologist and his intern Bob Tilden, who can identify the grave robber, travel to Brazil to investigate a rumored auction involving illicit international collectors. They arrive too late but learn that a shady Portuguese has sold the artifacts to a mysterious, fabulously wealthy Egyptian. Their recovery depends on the loyalty and resourcefulness of Bob and his old boss Bill Holden, who hopes his Middle East contacts from their days as United Nations weapons inspectors in Iraq can help them find the Egyptian. Bill has dispatched Bob to Paris....]

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Thor's Day: The mythological dimension

Joseph Campbell (1904-1987)
Where words do not reach

By Morris Dean

The mythologist Joseph Campbell enthralled many of us when we were exposed to his views surveyed in Bill Moyers' 1988 PBS television program, The Power of Myth. You may remember Campbell's advice, "Follow your bliss," though what attracted me was the mysterious sense of our connection with the world that birthed us.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Ask Wednesday: Ask Susan

What can I do about the bullying my son is being subjected to in our community?

By Susan C. Price

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

My 14-year-old son can’t even walk around the neighborhood without kids hurling names at him. He has no contact with these kids and should not be subjected to being bullied when he is doing nothing but walking down the street. He is a prisoner in his own home. It is so bad we are thinking of moving. I want to talk to the parents of these kids, but I am afraid it will make it worse for my son.
    My son has made mistakes and has “issues,” but I don’t want to elaborate. He is good looking, but very quiet. –Concerned Mom

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tuesday Voice: A fifth red herring of the healthcare biz


By Jim Rix

The impetus for this red herring is the commercial I saw this morning on the Today Show. “Start your morning with the power of protein – MILK.” Really? Does protein provide the power/energy for the human body? I think we all know that the body gets its energy from carbohydrates and not proteins. After all, do marathon runners protein-load or carbo-load before a race? Protein builds our muscles but it’s carbohydrates that provide the energy that powers them. In fact, the human brain operates exclusively on carbohydrates. That’s why under periods of starvation the human body will convert its protein (muscles) into carbohydrates to keep the brain and hence the body alive. (This process is called gluconeogenesis.)

Monday, April 14, 2014

Second Monday Music: Shepard tones

By André Duvall

For an interesting and unusual sonic diversion, click on the following links to experience the sound of Shepard tones. A Shepard tone, named after Roger Shepard, is a composite sound that seems to ascend or descend indefinitely, but at the same time seems to never really ascend or descend beyond a certain point. This is accomplished by superimposing tones that are separated by octaves. As a tone ascends or descends the scale, it fades out in intensity while the tone(s) sounding an octave above or below gradually increase in intensity. A Shepard tone, therefore, consists of multiple individual tones sounding octaves apart.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sunday Review: Good Ol' Freda

Good fortune

By Morris Dean

This week a fortune teller told me I was going to watch a film that night about a Mexican painter. I said, "No, I'm not. I'm watching Good Ol' Freda [2013, directed by Ryan White]. It's about the Beatles' secretary, Freda Kelly." The fortune teller said, "Ah, my mistake. I thought I was seeing the name Frida Kahlo."

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Second Saturday's Sonnet


By Eric Meub



High pressure system moving east: the road
continues, but the breakers bury it
beneath their backs, shrugging off a load
of splinters and a broken chariot.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

Attached is a photo of an Eastern Screech owl's protective coloring that was in today's paper: "Nature photographer has the patience to capture award-winning shots." The photographer is Graham McGeorge taken in the Okefenokee Swamp.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Thor's Day: Keep your theocracy

Off our democracy

By Morris Dean

It was too good to be just a fish. A correspondent this week wrote about last week's Thor's Day column ["King City, Texas," by Stone Arnold] that it was "interesting that your blog should bring up the topic of invocations in public meetings. I followed the Supreme Court's discussion of a very similar situation in Greece, NY last fall, and they are expected to rule on the matter in a couple of months."

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Ask Wednesday: Ask Susan

How can I contact my birth mother without hurting my adoptive parents?

By Susan C. Price

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

I have known for many years that I was adopted by my parents and I love them very much. I have now found out from an agency that my birth mother wants to contact me as she is seriously ill. This has thrown my whole world into a quandary as I don’t want to hurt my parents but am curious about my birth mother even though up till now I had not been the slightest bit interested in where I began!
    Please help me make the right decision. –Adopted Child

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Tuesday Voice: Only six years until I'm an adult

My life as a pre-teen activist

By Madison Kimrey

[Editor's Note: Madison Kimrey gave the keynote address two weeks ago in Ohio for Bowling Green State University's celebration of Women's History Month, whose theme was "Girl Culture." It was an honor for Madison to be selected as the keynote speaker, it's an honor for us to make the video of her address available here on Moristotle & Co.]

Copyright © 2014 by Madison Kimrey
Comment box is located below

Monday, April 7, 2014

First Monday with Characters

March 25, 1942 - March 31 2014
Edited by Morris Dean

Jack Cover, in memoriam
Jack died one week ago today, at home, in Raleigh. His obituary in the Raleigh News & Observer mentions some activist work of which he was rightly proud and which he liked to recount:
Jack was honored to be a delegate to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA, where he became acutely aware of the church's injustice to LGBTQ members. He served two terms on the Board of More Light Presbyterians. He campaigned vigorously for More Light in the last fifteen years of his life, seeking equal treatment for LGBTQ members within the Presbyterian Church. Jack learned to knit just so he could make rainbow scarves [he's wearing one in the photo] for awareness of More Light issues. He was a strong supporter of peace and justice causes, and was disappointed that he was too weak to risk arrest as part of the NAACP-organized Moral Monday protests during the summer of 2013.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

First Saturday as the World Turns

A little of the shine has worn off Pura Vida

By Ed Rogers

I have lived in Costa Rica for almost two years now. While I still love living here, I have begun to see cracks in my idea of the Costa Rican government.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

More about creativity: "18 Things Highly Creative People Do Differently." Excerpt:
While there's no "typical" creative type, there are some tell-tale characteristics and behaviors of highly creative people. Here is one of 18 things they do differently.
    They take time for solitude.
    "In order to be open to creativity, one must have the capacity for constructive use of solitude. One must overcome the fear of being alone," wrote the American existential psychologist Rollo May.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Thor's Day: King City, Texas

For lack of a second

By Stone Arnold

It was a hot dusty summer day in West Texas. I had crossed the border at El Paso on my way to Houston with no A/C. For those who have never been, West Texas is were Hell got it's name and no place to have a broken A/C unit.
    I pulled off the highway at a sign that read King City one mile. Large towns in that part of the country are few and far between, but with any luck I'd find a clean restroom and a cold drink.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Ask Wednesday: Jennifer Trieskey on opening and running Dickie-Do’s BBQ

Bigger than religion for some folks

Edited by Morris Dean

Dickie-Do’s BBQ is the quintessential, small-town mom and pop restaurant. It’s “Cheers” set in a small Southern town, but without the beer. Jennifer & Matthew Trieskey opened for business in April 2013, in Haw River, North Carolina. Their restaurant resides in a nondescript brick building at the intersection of the Hwy 70 By-Pass and NC Rt 49, and if you blink, you might miss it.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Another Tuesday Voice: The origin of the f-word

Julius Fučík
Assuredly not content-free!

By Geoffrey Dean

Today [Monday, March 31], when I did a search for info on the band director and march composer Julius Fučík (1872-1916) (think Bohemian Sousa and pronounce FU-chik), Google revised one of my search terms. This led me for the first time to Uncyclopedia: The Content-Free Encyclopedia, by way of the following sentences in its article on marching bands (search terms in italics):

Tuesday Voice: Thunderously delicate art

A sure-fire must-watch performance

By Chuck Smythe

Horrors! There was no reaction to last month's music column, the fantastic cello performance of my early-music crowd's Baroque Chamber Group. It was such a startling performance that the absence of reactions can only mean that people were just too busy that leonine March week to watch it. it is again, on this quiet day that ushers in April, lamb-like from March. You just have to watch (and of course listen to) this performance, even if you don’t care for early music. Especially if you don't care for early music! Proof is all in the doing. Slip a floor!