Saturday, May 28, 2016
Humor and inspiration published weekly (or whenever the editor feels like it) Fare: $ Priceless
Books by the editor: Life of the Eagle
The Short Happy Life of Davey Monroe
(Editor’s note: This essay was written about 15
years ago. We haven’t changed.)
You may have missed this in the rush of other
news, but there was a report that someone in
Pakistan had actually published an offer of a reward
to anyone who killed an American—any American.
In response, an Australian dentist wrote the
following to let everyone know what an American
is so they would know when they found one.
“An American is English, or French, or Italian,
Irish, German, Spanish, Polish, Russian, or Greek.
An American may also be Canadian, Mexican,
African, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Australian,
Iranian, Asian, or Arab, or Pakistani, or Afghan. An
American may also be a Cherokee, Osage,
Blackfoot, Navaho, Apache or one of the many other
tribes known as native Americans.
“An American is Christian, or he could be
Jewish, or Buddhist, or Muslim. In fact, there are
more Muslims in America than in Afghanistan. The
only difference is that in America, they are free to
worship as each of them chooses. An American is
also free to believe in no religion. For that, he will
answer only to God, not to the government, or to
armed thugs claiming to speak for the government
and for God.
“An American is from the most prosperous land
in the history of the world. The root of that
prosperity can be found in the Declaration of
Independence, which recognizes the God-given
right of each man and woman to the pursuit of
“An American is generous. Americans have
helped out just about every other nation in the
world in their time of need. When Afghanistan was
overrun by the Soviet army years ago, America
came with arms and supplies to enable the people
to win back their country. As of the morning of
September 11, 2001, America had given more than
any other nation to the poor in Afghanistan.
“Americans welcome the best—the best
products, the best books, the best music, the best
food, the best athletes. But they also welcome the
Richard L. Evans, 704 Country Club Court, Morehead City, NC 28557 © copyright 2016 R.L. Evans all rights reserved
“The national symbol of America, The Statue of
Liberty, welcomes your tired and your poor, the
wretched refuse of your teeming shores, the
homeless, tempest-tossed. These, in fact, are the
people who built America. Some of them were
working in the Twin Towers the morning of
September 11, earning a better life for their families.
I’ve been told that the World Trade Center victims
were from at least thirty other countries, cultures
and first languages—including those that aided and
abetted the terrorists.
“So you can try to kill an American if you must.
Hitler did. So did General Tojo, and Stalin, and
Mao, and every blood thirsty tyrant in the history
of the world. But in doing so, you would be just
killing yourself, because Americans are not a
particular people from a particular place. They are
the embodiment of the human spirit and freedom.
Everyone who holds to that spirit, everywhere, is
Birthdays this week: Hank Williams, Jr. (67),
Stevie Nicks (68), Gladys Knight (72), Henry
Kissinger (93), Louis Gossett, Jr. (80), Carol Baker
(85), Rudy Giuliani (72), Lisa Kudrow (53),
Wynonna Judd (52), Clint Eastwood (86), Brooke
Shields (51), Colin Ferrell (40), Pat Boone (82),
Morgan Freeman (79) and Clint Walker (89).
(Editor’s note: Warning! You might want to stop
Two vultures boarded a plane, each carrying two
dead raccoons. The attendant said to them, “Sorry,
boys but only one carrion allowed per passenger.”
Two boll weevils grew up in the South. One went
to Hollywood and became a star. The other stayed
behind in the cotton fields and never amounted to
much. He became known as the lesser of two weevils.
Two Eskimos were sitting in a kayak and got
very cold (what else?), They decided to build a fire
in the boat to keep warm. The fire soon burned the
boat to the waterline. Thus proving you can’t have
your kayak and heat it, too.
(Editor’s note: Had enough? I tried to warn you.
Maybe you’ll pay attention next time.)
Toward the Light is published and distributed without charge by the Editor:
Richard Evans, editor and publisher of Toward the Light, has given me permission to include his recent issue here. You can see it in the PDF original format on this web page:
Friday, May 27, 2016
Which is better: a Chevy, a Lamborghini or a Buick? Depends on what you want, where you live, how you feel. You might have preferred a Chevy at 17 years of age but none of the above today.
It is not easy to situate yourself in money. Compared to your cousin, you have more income but you don't own a boat. Compared to your grandfather, you have nearly no acreage but he did. Compared to the Italian priest in a Tuscan monastery, you have quite a wardrobe but he doesn't want more clothes. Mathematically, your income is quite a lot more than Ivan's but he is well-off by the standards of his family and friends and neighborhood.
When it comes to money (not wealth, a bigger and trickier category), people often talk of winning the lottery. If you win $100, what will you do with the money? How about $10,000? Sometimes, people talk of getting a windfall and I like to ask them if they need money. They usually pause a moment and then say they don't. Most people most of the time don't really know how much they actually have right now.
It is likely that your life would have been different if your family's annual income was monthly instead. In the same way, if a month's income had to last a full year, things would have probably been different. These numerical considerations are one thing but there is often an emotional side to money. Should I have worked harder? Should I have gone into a different line of work? Maybe I am ashamed of what I failed to accomplish. Maybe I am quite proud of all that I have earned and saved.
Thursday, May 26, 2016
As you get older and more and more people around you are younger than you are, it becomes clear that your memories go back to times earlier than many others experienced. It doesn't take long for you to realize the same applies to you. Many days elapsed before you came along. What happened in those times? People came from Asia and Europe and settled parts of North America. They could never get a good cellphone signal. Way before that, people left Africa to span out to Asia and Europe. How far back can we throw our minds? How about 4,543,000,000 years?
If we place our thoughts that far back, we pre-date not only good cellphone service but writing, language, cooking and air conditioning. We might not want to set our time machine back so far that we are on the planet without an atmosphere or with too many raging volcanoes.
It seems murkier to take our minds into the future. When you were 10 or 15 years old, did you have any idea that your life would be like it has? Are you living where you expected to?
Maybe you know that in 1899, the head of the US patent office recommended closing the office down on the grounds that everything that could be invented had been. My wife says she doesn't hear that sort of comment much any more. I think maybe we are more aware that the internet of things (IOT), genetics, and many other areas are just beginning to blossom.
Wednesday, May 25, 2016
Not a bad idea at all but the trouble is we keep on living. A new gadget gets invented and it holds all our backscratchers so nicely! In a month or two or so, we are ready to put it aside. We put aside. Not there! In the basement. You know, right beside Grandma's platinum doilies, the ones we are saving for when they come back in style. I keep them in the pie safe. Yes, I emptied all those culottes and spats out last year so there is room in there now.
It is hard to stay current. Something old is now treasured but I gave it away. This is still hot right now but it is fading in popularity even now.
As more people live to greater age, longer spans of time are covered by their lifetimes. Meanwhile, marketing and keeping up with the Jones, the de Jongs, the Janosonvanichs and the Tjings moves us all through fashions and fads even faster. So, we have more stuff to store, to hold on to, just in case.
Tuesday, May 24, 2016
I read a good poem by Ronald Wallace and I wanted to read more. So, I went to the library and of course, it is silly to go there without looking at the new books on display. I quickly found four I wanted to look at more completely. I did and I found they weren't for me.
One of the books is by a well-known crime, whodunit and police writer. That book starts out with a couple of criminals driving out into the country with a body to dispose of. We find out as they open the trunk of the car to complete their job that the victim is alive. When the trunk is opened, the man jumps out and runs off. The criminals vow to find him, track him down and complete their assignment. I decided I don't want to be party to their work. I am not intrigued. I think they should re-write the tale by switching to helping out in a soup kitchen for the poor and visiting the hospitalized and lonely.
Not long ago, I read that "it is not a story until something bad happens". I think our primate, maybe even more basic, animal nature gets aroused and engaged by dramatic tension: will the boy get the girl? Will the searchers find the missing child? Will the new product sell? If too many tales are peaches and cream, butter and biscuits, lovey-dovey, we lose interest. If it is all going to turn out the way we want, we don't need to worry. We don't even need to care, to pay attention.
It gets a little tiring, though, to put aside all the stories that go for the necessary tension by depicting horror, torture, ruthless cruelty. There are plenty of those and if we just lower our standards and cozy up to a good beating, a couple of gruesome murders and sadistic episodes, we have something to watch or read, something to fear, to raise worries and actual disgust. It can be a drag to look through books, series of books, possible tv viewing and movies in search of something well-crafted, appropriately tense and dramatic while skipping blood and gore attempts to be engaging.
The older I get, the more stories I have read or watched. It gets more difficult for me to care, or worry, or hope. I read plenty of non-fiction that is quite engaging, such as Franz de Waal's "Are We Smart Enough to Figure Out How Smart Animals Are?" So, I am too experienced, too familiar with brass knuckles and bloody blades to be very interested in whether Detective Smith is aware of who is also in the room. The last story that seemed actually worth reading without the aid of blood and screams was "The Revolving Door of Life" by Alexander McCall Smith. Before that, "The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend." There is good, modern, sensitive fiction worth reading that does not include breaking bones.
Monday, May 23, 2016
As I get more friends and followers on this blog, I have trouble keeping up. As more people respond to comments, I can't keep up. In spring, it is inviting weather and it is dumb to waste it. But if I go for a bike ride in the luscious breeze, I will get further behind. I want to examine how my life is going and how it feels but I am too busy living. I can't keep up!
Friends pour good ideas and great books into my head. I can't keep up. Every week goes by faster than the last one. I get writings from Pew and Brookings. I try to get through Time each week but I am behind.
Writers improve. Marketers send still more attractive deals in more effective language and press more of my buttons. I can't keep up!
I guess if I turn off my router and put all the mail directly into the recycling, it would help. If I don't fill the tank and limit myself to walking, I could save money but the shock might be upsetting. Maybe I will turn the router down instead of completely off. I may even have to redefine "keeping up" or use my sister's new mantra "It doesn't matter".
Some of the TED talks might distract you while you sympathize with my problem. I did put the latest email from TED talk on my blog, here http://fearfunandfiloz.blogspot.com/2016/05/fwd-this-scientist-can-hack-your-dreams.html
Sunday, May 22, 2016
Date: Sun, May 22, 2016 at 9:25 AM
Subject: This scientist can hack your dreams
|"...a canvas that flickers to life when we fall asleep" Open in your browser|
---------- Forwarded message ---------- From: This week on TED.com < email@example.com > Date: Sun, May 22, 2016 at 9:25 AM Subject: T...
Pain in the neck a** back - I have read that back pain is very common and is far more so in the US than in some countries where there is...
Don't forget TED talks. There is a lot of great stuff: humor, insight, inspiration, knowledge and fun. You can watch with the dialogue...
There have been many ideas for improving learning and schooling. Of course, the age and maturity of the learners matters as does the subjec...
I am very much enjoying "The Revolving Door of Life" by my favorite author, Alexander McCall Smith. We first began with Smith w...