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our general welfare
President Kennedy famously advised, “ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country” in his inaugural address. That was a cop-out. After all, the rebellious colonists organized a government to provide for the general welfare. So, for the hireling-in-chief to task his employers, instead of focusing on the duties and obligations he had committed himself to assume, was, to say the least presumptuous. And, since Kennedy was a Democrat, it just goes to show that the role of servant was not foremost in the minds of any of our public officials back in 1960.
late ’63 – early ’64
Christmas 1963. My brother David and I received another swell present from our Great Uncle and Aunt, Randolph and Mary Lois Cochran. I was only nine, older than David by two years, but it was time, Randolph and Mary Lois decided, that our gift indicated they knew we were growing and curious about the world. The gift was a small electric radio that would sit atop a chest of drawers, one much like our parents had. So, yes, the gift made us feel grown-up.
I suspect there is often a child in a family who is able to escape the confines of the worst kind of restrictive life. Perhaps just getting away from people who have squeezed the vision of possibilities into a speck is beyond our power to appreciate, especially at the moment when we leave their world behind. It is a moment when the air rushes into the lungs and the body can fully breathe. We must shed them and slough off our old skins if we are to become more ourselves.
I have been looking at those year-end 2013 TV news shows that review everything that happened over the past twelve months. Sure does look like a lot of stuff went down in 2013. A lot of stuff happened that I didn’t even know about when it was going on… sometimes right under my nose. Therein lies my problem Justplainwill. For some reason, this past year I only learned about some of the really important events after they happened…
rights vs. wrongs
The thoughts so well expressed by Mike Cox in Freeing Free Speech once again set me thinking about my own attitudes to this thorny issue. It’s a difficult one for me; on the one hand I’m pretty much against censorship and all for free speech, on the other I despise those who sneer at ‘political correctness’ for no other reason than that it curtails their right to be offensive to people who are different from them.
What is the best way to arrest our skid toward extinction? How to live an ethical life? How do we advance “spiritually”? How do we create the shift necessary to avoid nuclear war, war in general, alleviate poverty, eliminate pollution and unsustainable practices? I have always been suspicious of one-sentence or one-word answers to big questions, but Eckhart Tolle’s take on these questions overcomes my skepticism…
With his Christmas email to me, my friend Richard attached a Cox family Christmas morning picture from the mid Fifties. I have an electronic copy somewhere, as does my brother Rick, who posted it on Facebook. That’s where Richard saw it. He knew my brother and I had lost touch since Obama turned the country into a Socialist haven, so he included a copy in his Christmas greeting.
proud of my ancestors
On the back of my daughter’s car is a sticker that proclaims:
I dream of a world where chickens
Can cross the road
Without having their motives questioned.
She has other amusing stickers on her car, including an image of an early hominoid that reads, “Proud of my ancestors.”
Dear Fate (aka Pure Dumb Luck): A few days back, out of what must have been millions upon millions of contest entrants, you choose to smile broadly on a lady living in Stone Mountain, Georgia. Statisticians tell us that ‘Ms. Stone Mountain Big Winner Lady’ (not her real name) has a better chance of being struck by lightning than winning the Powerball Lottery. Ms. Lady is extraordinarily lucky TWICE last week then. First, she doesn’t get struck by an electric bolt out of the blue yonder and second, she wins ONE HUNDRED TWENTY MILLION DOLLARS!
love the silence
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” –from Mary Oliver’s “The Summer Day”
Years ago, I ran across a cartoon with the caption “The Mayfly Graduation.” Mayflies, if you aren’t an entomologist (and I’m not), belong to the insect order Ephemeroptera, because their lives are so ephemeral. Depending upon the species, the average lifespan of an adult mayfly ranges from 30 minutes to an entire day.
Vince Lombardi once said “the difference between a success and failure is not a lack KNOWLEDGE, but rather a LACK of WILL.” With the passing of Nelson Mandela, we lost an individual who was a model of knowledge and will. In America we know what to do but lack a Nelson Mandela. Does this absence signal not only a lack of knowledge but the will to rally around the cause of fighting for equity?
right to be stupid
I sincerely hope Tommy Jefferson and John Adams and Jim Madison didn’t mean for this to be the end result. A second rate character in a two-bit television show has temporarily become the nation’s moral compass; the linchpin that holds equality together for ourselves and our posterity. Sonofabitch!
First of all, let me emphasize that any TV network that calls itself the “Arts and Entertainment Network” and then runs “Duck Dynasty” marathons weekly needs to reassess direction.
life in the key of stupid
A 16-year-old is avoiding all jail time for killing four people and injuring nine in a drunk-driving accident after his lawyer successfully argued the teen suffers from “affluenza.” Affluenza, you say? You aren’t familiar with that disease? Well, you should be. It is a deadly affliction spreading rapidly into the wealthy conclaves of gated communities … and sadly it strikes only the wealthy.
So a southern evangelical Christian star of a reality TV series about his backwoods family got his ass suspended from said television series (on A&E, in case you’re wondering) for quoting the bible and comparing homosexuality to bestiality and the like. I don’t know which part of that sentence that least surprises me. Maybe the A&E part. Not that the network suspended Phil Robertson, but that he was ever on there to begin with. Or maybe not.
ebenezer would be proud
Jack Kingston, the Republican representative from Georgia’s first district and esteemed member of the Republican theme team, has apparently decided that, if he wants to be a viable candidate for the United States Senate, he’s got to get himself some press coverage. Since he’s not a novice, we have to assume that targeting the children’s lunches is not an accident. According to Daniel Molloy, writing for the Atlanta Journal Constitution Kingston said: “On the Agriculture Committee we have jurisdiction over the school lunch…
now is the winter
December has been a cold month. Perhaps when our time comes, it is best to go in winter with its short days and long and dark nights, amidst the bitterness of storms that take our remaining warmth. I think my time should be a moment when I have finished my work, tidied up my tools, kissed those I love goodnight, and not have to worry about what new change is afoot in the world. My exit will perhaps be best when rebirth is still months away from the first green of spring.
summer '96 edition
“Oh, to be back in the land of Coca-Cola!” And there Bob Dylan was: in the soft drink’s birthplace, Atlanta, Georgia. It was August 3, 1996. 110 years before, Coca-Cola was first served at the soda fountain of Jacobs Pharmacy at Five Points, in the heart of Atlanta’s downtown. But that was old history; Atlanta was intent on making new history — and being fast about it. The city was hosting the Centennial Olympic Games, and not receiving good reviews for its grace or efficiency. At the moment, Atlanta was trying to shake off the bad notices.
winter camping fiasco
“There it is,” I said, easing our big motor home across the dip at the edge of the pavement and onto the dirt road, “won’t be long now.” My wife, Arlette, who is French, pushed in a CD, and soon A Canadian Brass Christmas boomed through our cozy home on wheels. It was Christmas Eve, and after the pre-Christmas frenzy and getting ready for sub-freezing camping, we were anxious to begin a week in the woods. I started to relax. Although the slope down to the left seemed steeper than I remembered…
If you ever sit down and read a few pages of John T. Edge’s excellent book, Hamburgers & Fries, an American Story, I’m willing to bet that by the time you finish the preface, you’ll be on the prowl for a burger. I was. After reading about hamburgers stuffed with short ribs, or onions, or bacon, or smoked Gouda cheese—after he described burgers topped with caramelized onions and porcini mushrooms — I was more than a little burger crazy.
unrepentant spouse promotion
These are the ornaments I’m hanging on my tree
The stories and the memories are what’s precious to me
It’s a Christmas tradition to give of yourself
It’s the time we spend together now
That’s our greatest wealth
in these crazy days
I’ve been doing the grocery shopping at my place for awhile now. An arrangement that came about when ‘the management’ (as I sometimes call her) grew weary of me carping about the monthly food bill. So I take her’ double-dog dare’ to”… see if you can do any better, Buster” And of course, the way these kind of things always go, I couldn’t. But I did learn a few things…
Roger’s Fine Foods (not it’s real name) is one of those bigger box national grocery stores located in close proximity to Atlanta’s Little Five Points area.
living in the now
This morning, I sat at my kitchen table, enjoying a poached egg on toast, regretting that it took so few bites to eat, while savoring every one. I saved a good bit of the yolk until the last bite, intending to prolong the pleasure. As I lifted the small square of toast supporting it, the yolk fell to the floor. I was dismayed… so much for saving the best till last. This set me thinking of similar laments.
number 93 of the 100
Fantastic Meals. Number 93 of the Top 100 (Mostly Southern) Meals and Side Dishes of All Time
I lied. Yep. Right there in the title is a big, fat lie. I’ve never made catfish soup, you see—I use cod. But in order to make this a “Mostly Southern” recipe, I lied and called it Catfish Soup. The actual name is simply, “Fish Soup.” There’s nothing wrong, however, if you prefer to use catfish in this recipe. It would probably taste even better than with cod. I use cod because of the health benefits of cold-water-salt-water fish, and because the fillets are boneless.
sacred economics to heal
Pope Francis’ recent encyclical is sending shock waves around the world. In addition to exhortations to the faithful, Evangelii Gaudium (“The Joy of the Gospel”) packs a scathing critique of “unbridled” capitalism and consumerism. Here’s the flavor of the Pope’s message:
Just as the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say ‘thou shalt not’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills.
Nothing is as it seems in the land of the Cons. We’ve got to remember that. Sometimes it seems that, regardless of the issue, con men have to deceive, even if it means cutting off their own noses or, if they happen to be politicians, the noses of the constituents they expect to vote for them. If that makes no sense, it is still a fact in the twenty states where Governors, no doubt on the advice of their Representatives in Congress, are rejecting the extra dollars that would extend health care to people not earning enough to afford even subsidized insurance policies.
anger and unresolved pain
There is considerable cultural wisdom embedded within idioms, fables and nursery rhymes. Consider “The early bird gets the worm,” “The Tortoise and the Hare,” and “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.” Which makes the “sticks and stones” adage such a glaring exception.
As a child, I broke three bones, once turning my forearm into a stair step by slipping from a swing — at the zenith of its rearward arc — onto wet grass.
When in the life of a democratic nation it becomes clear that the government has parted ways with the governed and evinces no intention to reform, a decent respect for the opinions of mankind requires that the governed, i.e. the People, should declare in terms both broad and narrow the causes that impel them toward a separation of their own.
We the People hold to be self-evident the same truths that were proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence of 1776, chief among them an inalienable right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, and we remind the nation’s leaders…
Worthy of Comment
Also on the Dew
Instead of naming their new subdivisions the Dune Cottages, the Ocean Forest Cottages and the Riverside Cottages and then running their Dune Avenue down the Sea Island Spit, where the Loggerhead Turtles nest and 144 species of birds come to rest, making reference to the sea of effluent on which their cottages sit would be more honest, but it wouldn't attract many new buyers for Sea Island Coastal Properties' million dollar lots, would it? And it probably wouldn't please the realtors trying to move the 29 extant mansions in the million dollar plus range (For anyone looking to pay less for Read on →
What would winning the War in Afghanistan look like? America has been at war there for 13 years and you would expect that after thousands of casualties and spending immense sums of our tax dollars something that could be deemed victory would have been achieved by now. Instead of that we are presented with soon to be retiring Rep. Howard P. ‘Buck’ McKeon, Chair of the House Armed Services Committee, chiding the America people and President Obama for not wanting to keep fighting the longest war in our history. In a February 24th speech to National Press Club the California Rep Read on →
When my boys were growing up they learned rude words from their classmates (school is an education) and naturally I tried to filter out the most offensive. When a four letter word slipped out of their mouths I would always say “Please don’t say that.” After I explained that their meaning was offensive, and if it became their familiar vocabulary it would inevitably slip out when they didn’t want it to (like in front of a teacher), they were pretty accommodating. Their father however replied to my request not to swear in front of the children (without prevarication) “I’ll effing well Read on →
In business school there is little ambiguity as to the mission, money ... profits. In art school it's a little different. The one I went to required focus, after a year of fundamentals, on one of several options: Advertising, Illustration, Industrial Design (all, you'll note, with the same point as business school) or Fine Art. Within the Fine Arts, by year three, one selected a major: painting, sculpture or printmaking. Of course everyone knew that “fine art” was a commodity, but it was considered crass to dwell too much on that area. So what, if not money, was the point? Wel Read on →