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Politicians from both parties might perform public anguish about the student loan problem but it is painfully obvious that they just don’t get how serious it is. The most recent Congressional legislation tying interest rates on student loans to the several points beyond the interest rates on treasury notes might have looked like an important reform in Washington, where achieving anything bipartisan is hailed a great victory, but not to the 37 million young Americans who are on the hook for more than one trillion dollars in student loans that cannot be discharged in bankruptcy. They owe an average of $29,000. In an economy that no longer produces enough decent jobs
old profound being thing
A few of us borrowed a friend’s cabin up near Blue Ridge and drove up for the weekend, took the scenic route through Dalhonega, Blairsville and up 19 to 76. Something uplifting about the mountains. We navigated those winding roads slower than the traffic behind us would have preferred but it was a safe speed and very visually engaging, what with the roadside leaves gone for winter. The distant ridge lines were accessible to hungry eyes and the slopes themselves were similarly denuded, kind of raw, primeval maybe. Puts you in touch with the old profound being thing that Jung was so taken with, archetypes and all that.
“Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” — Matthew 6:21.
On April 4, 1967, exactly one year before he was assassinated, Martin Luther King, Jr. made public his opposition to the Vietnam War, articulated in his iconic “Beyond Vietnam” speech. Presented at Riverside Church in New York City, “Beyond Vietnam” was the most controversial speech King ever delivered. In it, he confronted head-on America’s “triple evils” — racism, economic injustice, and militarism — and called for “a radical revolution of values” to restore our nation’s integrity. Afterwards, many supporters, black and white, abandoned him…
stupidity and crime of war
Before I fell asleep last night, my wife Jody read aloud to me from her copy of Barbara Kingsolver’s book The Lacuna. The passage she chose was a diary entry that opened:
“Tonight’s news: the Allies broke open the dikes along the Netherlands coast, letting in the open sea and drowning thousands of German soldiers in the flood. Like the Azteca opening dikes to drown Cortés and his men on the shores of Lake Tenochtitlan. But fiction is nonsense, the war is real. Tomorrow the farmers of Walcheren will wake to see a tide standing over their crops, the floating corpses of their cattle, every tree in the land scalded dead by the salt on its roots. The glory of war is so frequently disappointing.”
april 25, 26 & 27
The large crowds attending Dahlonega’s Bear on the Square Mountain Festival come each year to the Georgia Mountain foothills town expecting to be entertained by the better known activities, including the constant jamming by visiting and local musicians, the Friday night Auction, and the MainStage Tent musical performances and Artist Marketplace on Saturdays and Sundays.
There are a large number of other less publicized activities during this festival, which will be taking place the fourth weekend of April around Dahlonega’s Historic Public Square.
That’s what the spouse said when I wrote him how surprised and disappointed I was to discover that Michelle Nunn has gratuitously endorsed the XL pipeline from Canada, because buying oil from “neighbors” is better than from overseas, as well as to read a report that Nunn wants changes to Obamacare to allow cheaper policies for the young.
2014 and beyond
Do the 2014 elections look promising for the Democrats? Not so far as I can tell. Do the Democrats have a bold plan to inspire the American people to turn the House back over to them? Not so far as I’ve heard. Is there a solution available? I think there is. We’ve got a Supreme Court that just doubled down on its disgraceful 2010 decision in Citizens United, continuing in the new case (McCutcheon vs. FEC) to pretend to believe that opening the floodgates still wider for big money to flow into our elections does not corrupt our political system.
a brief & sordid history
You promised yourself you would not get involved this time. You knew all about the probabilities … the impossibilities, really. You knew all about the odds against success, heard Nate Silver — or somebody — use five dollar words like “implacable,” “infinitesimal” and “asymptotic” to assure Charlie Rose the odds were ridiculous. And yes, you knew it was a Fool’s Notion for a grown man — someone who should know better — to think he had even a ghost of a chance of predicting the outcome of a 63 game string. There were too many X-factors a mere mortal couldn’t possibly know. Even the players and the hangers-on had no clue. Not even that Neil DeGrasse Tyson guy or Johnny Cochran, if he were still alive, could manage it.
the writer and the spy
And in the midst of hell’s a poppin’ lives, Peter Matthiessen and Thomas Polgar were reflective men who wanted to see what was on the other side of the door. They were realists who sought answers, who didn’t pretend the false was true and did not buy into fantasy. Most importantly, they were not afraid to look in the mirror and take a measure of the value of their lives, their legacy, what would endure from their stay on this rock.
The modern oil industry, vertically integrated exploration, extraction, refining and distribution of oil on a mass scale, began no later than 1825 in Tsarist Russia. In 1825 Russia produced 3500 tons of crude and refined it, mostly into kerosene. By 1850 the Russian output had doubled to over 7000 tons. By 1906 Russia had a pipeline over 400 miles long stretching from the oil fields in Azerbaijan to the Black Sea port of Batumi, the first major pipeline in the world.
food For thought
How many of you are aware that Albert Einstein taught a physics class at Lincoln University (an HBCU in Pennsylvania) in 1946? In doing so, the Nobel Prize-winning scientist once said, “The separation of the races is not a disease of colored people. It is a disease of white people. I do not intend to be quiet about it.” Another noted figure, Martin Luther King, once said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.” But we have become silent, for I don’t see the human outcry about where we are today.
can't teach character
Ever hear of “due diligence?” That’s a term often seen in business stories, particularly when public accountants are working at checking the financial background of companies who might want to buy or sell to one another.
Some people at the University of Georgia apparently don’t understand or use the term “due diligence,” especially when it comes to recruiting football players.
do so with caution
Once again a memory from my boyhood days working at Clifford Goolsby’s store digs its way to the surface. That store was a portal to a sometimes-strange world, and one of the stranger things I heard came out of the mouth of Bill Goolsby, a true character. Bill ran the register at Mr. Clifford’s. He was a good-humored fellow and a prankster who soldered a quarter to a nail and drove it into the wooden floor near the register. How many laughs …
winter without end
“Every day we have been ready to start for our depot 11 miles away, but outside the door of the tent it remains a scene of whirling drift. I do not think we can hope for better things now. We shall stick it out to the end, but we are getting weaker of course, and the end cannot be far. It seems a pity, but I do not think I can write any more.”
So reads the last entry in the diary of Captain Robert Falcon Scott. It’s dated 29 March 1912 as he and three companions have made a valiant but ultimately unsuccessful attempt to return safely from the South Pole. His team had gotten to the Pole in January only to discover that the Norwegian Roald Amundsen had gotten there first a month earlier.
guns and domestic violence
I’ve argued for some time that, if we are serious about preventing serious crime, then we address behavior at an early stage — i.e. when it’s just abusive and not the cause of serious injury. Now the Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, has agreed that a proved abuser of another’s rights can be properly deprived of the right to own a tool, whose sole purpose is to perpetrate an assault from a distance. Mr. Castleman of Tennessee is prohibited from owning a gun because over a decade ago he was convicted of having abused a spouse.
going to the groomers
My dear wife Jody got a good chuckle recently when I asked about her “beauty parlor” appointment. Seems as though I’m so behind the times that I didn’t know that expression went out of style probably in the days when Jimmy Carter was president. So yesterday when m’lady scooted down the driveway with our hirsute Sheltie, Mr. Sheldon, in the front seat, I was sympathetic and in solidarity with him that he was being dragged to a “dog groomer,” the equivalent I’m sure to a trip to the vet to be neutered. And being an especially scrappy little lad with a country boy delight in rolling about in natural stuff like deer poop, he certainly would have had his tail between his legs had he even thought he was being ferried to a sort of canine beauty parlor…
40 days in georgia
There’s an exhilaration abounding throughout Georgia today. Hurrah, hurrah, the Georgia General Assembly is no longer in session. You can relax a little more this week. Almost as on cue, the Legislature again got little done. They confused some issues, angered a lot of people, scurried home quickly because of the early elections this year, and in general, accomplished little. But you can bet they did two things: they collected their pay, and put in more time toward their pensions. A compilation of what the lawmakers did this year was presented in the Sunday Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The one-page list showed only on three items did the Legislature accomplish significant changes, good or bad.
a book review
Eastern Europe and Russia – When the Soviet Union dissolved it left secret police and security personnel suddenly on the outs and without paycheck. Given their skill sets, for many, criminal behavior was the logical next step. The party apparatchiks were often out of work too but some were positioned to advantage. Prior to dissolution, national resources such as oil were sold abroad and the profits fed into the soviet system, keeping it alive…
I think there should be minimum requirements to being a man. Don’t worry; men are a rather small minded-bunch so the requirements wouldn’t be stringent. But there should be bare minimums. And f you can’t meet the minimum requirements, you’ll be asked to move to Canada or Los Angeles.
The case for bare minimums was recently made when I saw an early-thirties male-like person at Home Depot who asked the woman at the paint counter. “How do you open a can of paint?”
the written magic
As I try to understand the need I have to write about what I see and what I think I believe, I find that I continue to narrow the themes that especially occupy me. I’ve got the main ones down to under a dozen I believe–from love and commitment, to friendship and loyalty, to success and disappointment, to fragility and death, with more than a couple of stops in between. Although I’m not convinced it’s an “age thing,” the theme of death seems to be creeping in more and more.
look at me
The first time I realized I was invisible I was 44, arriving at the Spanish border from France. At the age of 20-21 I’d spent 18 months living in Spain. Then I was blonde and foreign, and young Spaniards acted like fruit flies around a ripe peach. It was good for my ego and I got the message that Spaniards like women. I was English and Englishmen look the other way as often as not, out of shyness and ineptitude.
from pompey’s head
From 1954 to 1956 we lived down the street from Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. Two years was about par for course for living anywhere, but I did get to spend my high school years in the vicinity of 161st Street, albeit in three different apartments. By that time, relocating every two years had become one of my maternal parents fixed habits.
It is said that seven moves are equivalent to a house going up in flames.
lap of luxury
What a sumptuous hotel the Ocean Forest was, described by one writer as “the finest hotel between New York and Miami.” From NYC to Myrtle Beach it’s 558 miles. From Miami to Myrtle Beach it’s 554 miles. Slap dab in the middle as we say around these parts. Built in the late 1920s the hotel’s price tag came in around $1 million. The “million-dollar hotel’s” goal was to create an East Coast haven for well-heeled folks in New York and Miami. They built it and the rich they did come. The location and the hotel’s grandeur, many insist, made Myrtle Beach the tourist destination it is today.
Years ago when I was a reluctant warrior on a battlefield far, far away and now almost forgotten, many people died for no real reason. That time was one of great discontent. As Sherlock would say,
“It’s the East Wind that takes us all in the end, the terrifying force of ‘rolling thunder’ that lays waste to all in its path. It seeks out the worthy along with the unworthy and plucks them from the face of the earth. It is both the blunt as well as the sharp instrument, the club and the dagger, precise and without remorse. ”
The “rolling thunder” got many of us, friend and foe alike.
challenged separate but equal
Almost 60 years after the Brown v. Board of Education school integration decision, a statue will be erected to honor the Charleston judge who steered the nation toward the landmark ruling. It’s long overdue. Quite frankly, we should be embarrassed that it’s taken this long. U.S. District Judge Waties Waring’s courage and conviction in law helped to transform a segregated America into an integrated land of opportunity. At 2 p.m. April 11 in the garden at the Hollings Judicial Center in Charleston, judges and citizens from around the state and nation will honor Waring, the unlikely Southern jurist who became the social outcast who left town for challenging segregation.
so patently dishonest
Clever public relations officers working somewhere in the bowels of the Pentagon have decided that henceforth the Guantanamo hunger strike will be termed a “long term non-religious fasting.” What’s more, rather than being subjected to forced-feeding the “non-religious fasters” are now being treated to “enteral feedings.” What are we to make of such obvious lexical fig leaves?
atomic paradise sequel
During a recent trip to Savannah River Site I toured the ghost town of Ellenton. Since I wrote “Atomic Paradise” Ellenton, an apparition, haunts me. An entire town … moved. In researching “Atomic Paradise” I examined the unexpected exodus of Ellenton’s residents and two things caught my attention. One involves nature; the other human nature.
Nature first. The afternoon I saw Ellenton brushy undergrowth grew where homes had sat. Where people once slept…
Worthy of Comment
Also on the Dew
Politicians from both parties might perform public anguish about the student loan problem but it is painfully obvious that they just don’t get how serious it is. The most recent Congressional legislation tying interest rates on student loans to the several points beyond the interest rates on treasury notes might have looked like an important reform in Washington, where achieving anything bipartisan is hailed a great victory, but not to the 37 million young Americans who are on the hook for more than one trillion dollars in student loans that cannot be discharged in bankruptcy. They owe an average of $ Read on →
You knew in the beginning it was folly, no good -- like that girl who lived around the corner your Momma said was "fast." “She's gonna take your money and your stomp on your heart,” Momma said. You knew it too ... but you went anyway. YOU You promised yourself you would not get involved this time. You knew all about the probabilities ... the impossibilities, really. You knew all about the odds against success, heard Nate Silver -- or somebody -- use $5 words like “implacable,” “infinitesimal” and “asymptotic” to assure Charlie Rose the odds were ridiculous. And yes, you knew it was a Fool's Notion Read on →
Do the 2014 elections look promising for the Democrats? Not so far as I can tell. Do the Democrats have a bold plan to inspire the American people to turn the House back over to them? Not so far as I’ve heard. Is there a solution available? I think there is. We’ve got a Supreme Court that just doubled down on its disgraceful 2010 decision in Citizens United, continuing in the new case (McCutcheon vs. FEC) to pretend to believe that opening the floodgates still wider for big money to flow into our elections does not corrupt our political system. And we’ve got poll Read on →
The book review I just finished repeatedly asks, “What endures?” The author offers one possible answer: “Spaces in the heart that accommodate the absent.” When I read this, I had just learned of the deaths of Peter Matthiessen and Thomas Polgar. Matthiessen was the prolific writer and author of a multitude of books, including The Snow Leopard, his account of a grief-stricken journey to the Himalayas. Polgar was a legendary CIA officer and the last station chief in Saigon. His final cable from Vietnam quoted Jorge Santayana that those who do not know history are condemned to repeat it. Both lived full li Read on →