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Archive for September, 2013

 

When evening comes, I return home and go into my study.  On the threshold I strip off my muddy, sweaty, workday clothes, and put on the robes of court and palace, and in this graver dress I enter the antique courts of the ancients and am welcomed by them, and there I taste the food that alone is mine, and for which I was born.  And there I make bold to speak to them and ask the motives of their actions, and they, in their humanity, reply to me.  And for the space of four hours I forget the world, remember no vexation, fear poverty no more, tremble no more at death: I pass indeed into their world.
  ―  Niccolò Machiavelli
From: “The Prince
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On This Day In:
2012 On America
2011 Shiver, Me Timbers!
2010 Fiduciary Breakdown

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Certainly

In life, there’s one true certainty
That we will meet eternity
When we drift on to gentler skies
Beyond the strings of mortal ties.
But if you find a love that’s true
In which you can be certain too,
Then you will grasp eternity
In life, with death its treasury.
Written for mindlovemisery Prompt 16: Life Lesson
  —  Found on one of the blogs I follow: http://reowr.wordpress.com
The specific post is:  http://reowr.wordpress.com/2013/08/12/certainly/
Please visit the site for a daily smile…
A link to the site can also be found on the right of my blog under “Tributaries and Eddies” as “Reowr”.
[Not all of us are fortunate to find a love that’s true of which we can be certain.  But, if you do, it is a pearl of great price and you should sacrifice all you have to get – and keep – it in your heart.  —  KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2012 Saving The Union
2011 Still And Too Often

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I have received comments from some wishing I would write more “original” material on my own blog.  The following is a reply I wrote to a posting on a blog I follow.
The blog is: http://carryingthegun.wordpress.com
The specific post I was replying to is: http://carryingthegun.wordpress.com/2013/09/12/whats-with-the-super-hate-towards-gen-petraeus-that-cuny-video/
Please go to the original site to read the full context of what (the post and the video) I am responding to…
General Petraeus spent the majority of his adult life in service to his country.  For this he is to be thanked.  The protesters are louts and are fortunate they have people willing to defend this country so they can have the freedom to be so boorish and rude.  If they honestly believed the General is a war criminal and can prove it, they should be raising the issue in the courts instead of verbally assaulting him on the street.
Like the Italian student, the average civilian does not understand that to progress in today’s military requires not just a willingness to engage and destroy the enemy, but also that you continue your personal education.  Petraeus, may have sought his particular degrees for his personal growth, but he also fully understood that in today’s military, to get to the top, you must punch your ticket at every possible level, in command positions, in staff positions and in education.  Education includes branch staff colleges and “normal” university education.  Petraeus may be the exception for going to the PhD level, but he is by no means the exception for advanced degrees within the modern military.  This is all just a part of the MBA’ing of the U.S. Military.
Franks, Petraeus, Schwarzkopf, Powell and many others are politicians (within the Pentagon and Congress) as much as they are military men.  It remains to be seen whether this is good for the country (and the military) or not.
As for the UK student, being half right can also make you completely wrong.  Yes, the German high command was extremely well educated – and not just in terms of warfare.  But that is not the same as being Nazis.  Unfortunately, they (the German military – disregarding the SS) were too observant of the rule of the lawful government and then could not change their mindset when their government became unlawful.  I can still hear the castigation of General Shinseki after his cautionary testimony prior to the invasion of Iraq.  I wonder if world history might have been changed if some of the German high command had had some small amount of Shinseki’s courage.
Of course, the SS were a different kettle of fish, but then fanatics usually are.  The SS were the true “Nazis” the average person thinks of when the term is thrown about loosely.  And no, I am not forgiving the “average” German or the “average” German soldier for their acquiescence AND participation in the butchery of the period.
We are facing perilous times for our military because we now have a full generation of senior commanders who have never known hard times.  Money, honors and fame have been there for the taking for the last 20 plus years, and they have done so – during and after their careers.  They are almost precisely where the German professional military was in the late 1920′s and early 1930′s – comfortable and elite.  As I stated above, it remains to be seen whether this is good for the country or not.
As for me, I keep hearing General (then President) Eisenhower’s cautionary speech about the dangers of the military / industrial complex…  For a transcript of President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Farewell Address (1961), see:
http://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=true&doc=90&page=transcript
And just in case nobody has said it to you lately: “Thank you for your service, Lieutenant.” (And forgive me if you are now a Captain…)
[For the record, in my reply on the original site, I inadvertently misspelled General Petraeus’ name several times and I have corrected these errors above.   —  KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2012 The Victor
2011 Forging Away At My Deadlines
2010 Try This With Your Shoes…

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And to you, dear WordPress land, keep writing your truths.  Because it has to count.  It has to mean something that we reach more people with our own sense of humanity, vulnerability, power and compassion.  Because here, I think, the world is starting to make sense on ‘paper’.
Found on one of the blogs I follow: http://thebambooprinciple.wordpress.com
The specific post is: http://thebambooprinciple.wordpress.com/2013/08/10/on-paper-dear-wordpress/
[Well, virtually, if not on ‘paper’.   —  KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2012 The Victor
2011 Forging Away At My Deadlines
2010 Try This With Your Shoes…

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Perhaps the greatest cost of wave conflict in America will be paid by the millions of children currently compulsorily enrolled in schools that are attempting to prepare them – and not very successfully at that – for jobs that won’t exist.  Call that stealing the future.
  —  Alvin Toffler
From his book: “Future Shock
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On This Day In:
2012 Cranky Old Man
2011 A Man’s Got To Know His Limitations

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A great many people think they are thinking when they are really rearranging their prejudices.
   —  Edward R. Murrow
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On This Day In:
2012 Ordinary Five Minutes Longer
2011 The Wealth Of Sons (And Daughters)

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Apart from how interesting he is to read of, the boogeyman is someone we all know.  We’ve all been afraid.  Whether of the real person who haunts you or the voice in the dark that murmurs you’re not good enough.
[Found at a blog I follow: http://aholisticjourney.wordpress.com/
The specific post is: http://aholisticjourney.wordpress.com/2013/08/05/the-writing-process-ii-why-we-read-part-4/
 —  KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2012 Does Uncommonly Flexible = Flip-Flopping?
2011 A Modest Review Of A Modern Day Classic
Encouragement Is The Path To Immortality

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Definition of rock journalism: People who can’t write, doing interviews with people who can’t think, in order to prepare articles for people who can’t read.
  — Frank Zappa
[I sometimes wonder if there might not be an internet (blogging) corollary to this observation.  Myself, included.  —  KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2012 Working Retired
2011 The Web Is Not Authoritative! (Really?)

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Civilization, in fact, grows more maudlin and hysterical; especially under democracy it tends to degenerate into a mere combat of crazes; the whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.  Wars are no longer waged by the will of superior men, capable of judging dispassionately and intelligently the causes behind them and the effects flowing out of them.  They are now begun by first throwing a mob into a panic; they are ended only when it has spent its ferine fury.
  ―  H. L. Mencken
From his book: “In Defense Of Women
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On This Day In:
2012 Got Sleep?
2011 Not Another Barren Corner

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It’s better to have something to remember than anything to regret.
  —  Frank Zappa
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On This Day In:
2012 Increasing Doubt
2011 You Can’t Touch This

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Our planet is 4.4 billion years old.  For at least 3.8 billion years there’s been life on Earth, which is a staggering fact when you stop and consider that the universe itself is only 14+ billion years old.  For just under a third of the time the universe has existed, there has been life on Earth!  And on Earth, life has endured seemingly insurmountable odds to survive for over 80% of the planet’s history.  These are particularly heartening facts when we consider our search for life elsewhere.
We may only have one confirmed example of life in outer space, but it is spectacular in its longevity, its tenacity and its diversity.  We have no reason to think the same process hasn’t been replicated elsewhere throughout the universe.
[Found at:  http://thinkingscifi.wordpress.com
The specific post is: http://thinkingscifi.wordpress.com/2013/08/10/life-in-outer-space/
Note: the title refers to Science AND Fiction.  Not Science Fiction.
I’m not sure about the diversity part.  As far as I know, all life on Earth is carbon based.  That doesn’t seem too terribly diverse to me.  Bring on the silicates or the ammonia-nites!  Then we can talk about diversity…  —  KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2012 What Reagan Really Cared About
2011 Seeming Sane (Or Not)

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Last week I was driving home from work and decided to listen to some tunes instead of my normal “talk” radio or Giants game.
An oldie but a goodie came on: “Emotion” by the BeeGees.  The song was written by Barry Gibb, but was actually made famous by Samantha Sang (with the BeeGees singing background).  The BeeGees later covered the song on a greatest hits album.  It’s simply one of those songs which sticks in you head for days…  I’m not sure there’s a better compliment than that.
A few songs later, another old favorite of mine came on: December ’63 (Oh What A Night) as performed by The Four Seasons.  As you can imagine, for this one, I’m cruising along singing at the top of my lungs!  Fortunately, I’m alone in the car.  🙂
I haven’t gotten around to adding many videos to the other songs on my Poems page, but as promised, I have added video at the bottom of these new additions.
As always, check out the lyrics first and then watch the video at the bottom.  Enjoy!  And don’t forget to get out and support your local arts in person…
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On This Day In:
2012 How Did We Get Here?
2011 Labor Day Weekend Mishmash
More, More, More

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Over the Labor Day Weekend, I finished reading the 14th novel in the “Dresden Files” series: “Cold Days“, written by Jim Butcher (2012©).  Now, obviously if you’ve read fourteen books in a series, you’re either getting paid to read them or you “really” enjoy them.  In this case, I enjoy them!
This novel is another in the installment of a good man (in this case a wizard with magic powers – Harry Dresden) with a small band of friends (humans, a werewolf, a vampire, and another wizard) using his powers to save the world (or at least most of the Mid-west of the North American continent).  Dresden lives in modern day Chicago.  All of these books follow a simple formula: hero meets a bad guy the hero cannot possibly defeat, hero somehow survives the encounter, hero muddles through some other bad situations while finding out what’s going on, hero defeats bad guy and in the process finds out more about himself and the over-arching storyline of the series.  (Spoiler Alert: the series is supposed to go on for twenty volumes, so there’s six more to go.  The titles come out approximately one per year and are available in hard bound, paper back and e-read at roughly the same time so the format is whatever you prefer.)
My son James is the person who turned me on to this series.  I noticed he was getting “into” a lot of books about witchcraft and magic, so I asked him what was up.  He started telling me about this series of books he was reading and he was enjoying them so much he was branching out into other areas – folklore, myths, horror stories, etc.  He’s now read Stoker (“Dracula”), Shelly (“Frankenstein”), Dante (“Inferno”), and many other classics  (Homer, etc…).  Although, I’ve never really been “into” this kind of literature (the combination of fantasy with mythology), I asked if I could borrow a couple to see what’s what.  This was about 2005, or so.  The first couple were [sic: was] fascinating because I knew nothing about either the folklore or mythology, nor much about wizardry (as opposed to “sleight-of-hand” magic).  While I still don’t know much “in-depth” about folklore or mythology, I now know a great deal more than I used to.
In my case, I don’t believe reading one title series provides a breadth of knowledge about a genre, merely a taste / sampling.  Also, from my limited exposure, myths are frequently modified to fit the story, so reading any single title series does not necessarily accurately relate a specific myth.   (This was particularly true in the “Percy Jackson” Greek mythology / fantasy series.)
You might ask, “Well, if the books all follow a formula, what’s keeping your interest?”  To tell, the truth, they did start to wear on me after about the sixth or seventh volume, but I took a break and returned to the remaining books with renewed energy.  I found two main interests: the characters (main and supporting, good and evil) are growing with each volume and the over arching storyline is starting to come together (or at least to come out to the main character).  And what do we learn / know?  It’s not our abilities which define us, it is our choices as to what we do with those abilities.  And the story arc?  There is always a struggle between “absolute” evil / chaos and “our” rational and slowly progressing world of understanding.  Both of these are, of course, “Harry Potter” and “Star Wars” themes, and both themes are mentioned in the series.  Well, the Star Wars is.  The Harry Potter theme isn’t directly mentioned, but they (the two story themes) are so closely related they might as well be.  Dresden’s first name: “Harry”.  Duh!!
Anyway, this volume is a fast read like all of the others, and I recommend the series to anyone interested in the Sci-Fi / horror / fantasy genre.  I think they are easily digestible in three to four volumes at a time, then take a week break before starting back.  As I am writing this, I am reminded of the “binge” watching I do (on some holidays) of some TV series.  I think there must be a qualitative AND quantitative threshold to binging (that’s “binge – ing”) between viewing and reading.  At least for me there is…  I can do a whole day, 18+ hours of TV watching and I can certainly do the same for reading.  But many of these books are over 450 pages, which, to me, means several days after work, plus a weekend day (usually).  That level of sustained reading isn’t possible when you have a “real” life pulling you in multiple directions.  That’s why I advise tearing through a couple and then taking a break, then back at it.  Having said this, it’s one thing to watch the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy in one day or watch all six of the Star Wars movies AND another thing again to watch all 170+ episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation.  The first two are “only” a solid day.  ST:TNG would be good fifteen (15) ten (10) hour days!!   That’s some serious viewing!!
I will close by cautioning that although these books are entertaining and the good guy wins out in the end, they are NOT suitable for children or pre-teens or even “queasy” young adults as they are graphic in the depiction of violence.
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On This Day In:
2012 How Did We Get Here?
2011 Labor Day Weekend Mishmash
More, More, More

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We triumph without glory when we conquer without danger.
  —  Pierre Corneille
From the play: “The Cid
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On This Day In:
2012 How Did We Get Here?
2011 Labor Day Weekend Mishmash
More, More, More

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Who dares nothing, need hope for nothing.
  —  Friedrich Schiller
From: “Don Carlos
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On This Day In:
2012 Check My Math
2011 Just Asking

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