Au revoir…

Philosophers love to quote Socrates: “The unexamined life is not worth living.”
My ex-colleague, Alphonso Lingis (google him!) said it should be added that
“The unlived life is not worth examining.”

The past few weeks have been fun, but please consider this blog closed, and have a good year!


Lest We Forget…

The catastrophe.

“Monday marks the ninth anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq war and occupation. The rationale for that war was fabricated in the highest reaches of the U.S. leadership.

First came the lies, so many it was impossible to keep up. Then came the shock and awe, the crudely invented Iraqi jubilation, the torture, the renditions, the secret prisons, the indefinite detentions, the deluge of unaccounted-for cash, the no-bid contracts, the flaccid media, the spectacle of “mission accomplished,” the smug claims that there was no insurgency, the lousy armor …

The endless flow of blood.”

To his eternal credit, Maine’s representative, Tom Allen, was among those who voted NO on the authorization. Try to remember what life was like under a Republican administration before you vote in November!!

Making a Life or Making a Living?

The 10 investment banks employees most want to quit – Fortune Management.

As a philosophy teacher, I never passed up a chance to tell my students that college should be used to choose an entire way of life–reading, history, travel destinations, political core beliefs, religious and philosophical commitments and questions, artistic endeavors, and answers to the hardest questions that human beings have asked about what is true, what is real, what is death, and what is a GOOD LIFE.  So I’m not surprised by the discontent of these people–our best and brightest–who chose to use their education to make the most money possible, and evolved into predators.  Sad.

“Memorandum”…and A Temporary Exit

E. B. White, one of two or three of my favorite writers, wrote  “Memorandum,” in his book of essays, One Man‘s Meat, in October, 1941–just a couple weeks before the attack on Pearl Harbor.  The title refers to his listing the approximately 200 chores that need to be done before New England winter sets in on his Maine salt-water farm–each sentence beginning with some variant of “Today I ought to…” After a few pages he notes that the sun is going down, and he has spent the afternoon at his typewriter, thus avoiding the work, postponing acceptance of winter.  He decides to go into town, since he “ought to get a haircut.”

If you run a large farm in Maine, October is a time of reckoning. Chores not completed will be impossible a month later, and a price will be paid, up to–and maybe including–disaster.
For a city-dweller like me a similar memorandum could be written to myself in October, (I ought to put on the storm windows, clear out the spent tomato vines, shut off the water-line to the outside faucet, put away the hoses, put on snow-tires, have the furnace inspected, take in the outdoor furniture, and so on.) But April involves a much longer list in preparation for putting in the gardens,  and preparing for warmer weather, while doing repairs necessitated by winter’s toll on paint, stain, asphalt, and plantings.  And this year the list is heavily augmented by other more pressing factors: F. has a photography exhibit to prepare for the month of May, and we have decided to reconfigure in several household categories–vehicles, home improvements, and budgeting strategies, among others.

So this is all in the way of saying that this blog gets shoved aside for a few days, to allow more hours per week to be spent looking for used vehicles, drawing up lists, AND doing what’s needed around the place (new window boxes, new garden plans, painting, and much more.)

I will leave everything online as it is, so feel free to check back from time to time in case I found time to post new entries, or to read older posts that you may have missed.  But I will no longer wake each day thinking about what might be fun to write or put online.

Thanks so much for your kind responses and interest, and have a great Spring, which arrives officially in a few days.  Having no hair, I will not be going into town to get a haircut, but if you know anyone selling an old 4-cylinder Toyota Tacoma pickup truck, I might be interested, since that garage  MUST be cleaned out before gardening season!




Spring? Birds, boats, and Po-Boys…

We just saw 5-6 robins in our yard, our plum tree, and a cherry tree. There was a woodpecker on one of the feeders, and an unusual fawn-colored small brown bird, as well, maybe a warbler. The 13″ of snow that fell two days ago is 3/4 gone, and there’s talk of temperatures near 60 towards the end of the coming week. We had dinner with old friends at Caiola’s in Portland’s West Side last evening, and my hanger steak and scalloped potatoes were absolutely wonderful, with good French wines. F. had a fried oyster salad appetizer that reminded me that we have not yet been to Po-Boys and Pickles sandwich shop just a few blocks from us: just moved to my lunch schedule for the coming week.

In short, the signs of coming Spring abound, even here in the frozen north. It is the time of year that for a couple decades signaled almost daily trips to the boatyard to start prepping for the summer sailing season: lubing the seacocks, painting the bottom, knocking down the winter cover, touching up the brightwork, changing out the oil and water filters, inspecting the sails, waxing the topsides, topping up the batteries, and, in general tackling the 101 jobs required to ensure a safe season on the mooring in upper Casco Bay. Alas, those days seem to be over. We sold our wonderful old Hallberg-Rassy 35 a few years ago, as my advancing age chipped away at my stamina and agility (I am 76). But I will never have a spring without the rising expectation of time to spend messing about with our boat, whether or not I ever have another one. Our boats, Thalia, Dalliance, and Chantey provided us more pleasure and adventure and wonder than any other possessions shared in our quarter-century together, and they live in my personal mythos in a way usually reserved to major relationships to people, pets, and favored places. Maine is wonderful, and is waking up once again. Perhaps, me, too.

Challenging the Self-Made Myth | The Nation

“This book challenges a central myth that underlies today’s anti-government rhetoric: that an individual’s success is the result of gumption and hard work alone. Miller and Lapham clearly show that personal success is closely tied to the supports society provides. Must reading for all who want to get our nation back on track.”

via Challenging the Self-Made Myth | The Nation.

Gopnik Does it Again…

Elaine Pagels on the Book of Revelation : The New Yorker.

Am I the only one who believes that Adam Gopnik is doing the best thinking and writing of anyone writing for magazines in our era? He’s a New Yorker regular, and if his name is on the cover, I go there first (well, after a couple cartoons). I’ve never seen such range. He can write about ANYthing and do something new and thoughtful with it. The current issue has his piece on the book of Revelations, and it ties together the politics of the early Christian era, current Hollywood sci-fi, and the entire history of messianic religions–doing it in a totally convincing way. I grew up on Bible-reading, and I’ve never seen a more impressive interpretation of that troublesome last book in the Christian canon. Bravo!

Steve Jobs & Platonism: (why it’s so difficult to disassemble Apple products!)

Blame Bauhaus and the Braun company!

“Neither Jobs nor Ive tells us exactly what he means by “pure,” and Isaacson is not much help here. It appears that “pure” products exhibit a perfect correspondence between their form and what both Jobs and Ive refer to as their “essence.” Ive notes that “we don’t like to think of our knives as being glued together. Steve and I care about things like that, which ruin the purity and detract from the essence of something like a utensil, and we think alike about how products should be made to look pure and seamless.” It is a kind of industrial Platonism. All knives have an essence, and if the form of a given knife corresponds to that essence, then the knife, the designed object, is perfect, or pure. Nothing compound or cobbled together; only the integrity of a single substance in a simple form. Pure products are born, not made; any visible signs of human assembly—say, screws—would make it hard to believe in the higher integrity, the perfection, of the product.”

via Evgeny Morozov: The IGod: Steve Jobs’s Pursuit Of Perfection—and The Consequences. | The New Republic.