The page has fallen silent

Being very old, I had the kind of education that seems incredibly sort of learned to people now in school. We learned to write, not just to type and print, but so we could write in a rapid cursive hand – which can be useful if the electricity’s off. We were also pretty well drilled in English grammar, which nobody loved, probably not the teacher either, but it really is awfully useful if you are going to write English. You can speak very well without knowing it, but when it comes to writing, there are certain things you have to know about making yourself clear to a reader. It’s very different from speaking to a listener. Apparently fewer of those skills are being taught.   …

Something that is very much neglected critically and in teaching is what a sentence or a little piece of prose sounds like. Language is basically speaking, and writing is a way of preserving it. It just so happens that I’m the kind of person who hears my writing; I hear it silently in my head, so I mostly don’t have to read it to myself.   …

A lot of people, however, don’t hear their writing, and it never occurred to them that they should. We used to recite and to have to learn poems in school. All that seems to be gone. Reading aloud is not something that people seem to do much anymore, though just about everyone seems to enjoy being read to. It’s like the page has fallen silent. And I think a writer needs to be able to hear the page they’re writing. And to speak a sentence out loud you often hear, “It’s going clunk right there.”

Ursula K.LeGuin, interview.


A Modest War Proposal

To the President of the United States, the Congress vacationing and the pundits salivating:

1. Do not put foot in mouth and attempt to walk.

2. Do not insert head into ass and attempt to speak.

3. Do not confuse the size of your penis with the quality of your brain (although in some instances there may well be a diminished correlation).

4. When has a ‘red line’ ever meant anything except housing discrimination?  When has a line in the sand ever been important except on a school playground?

5. If 70,000+ have been killed in Syria with bullets and bombs (some supplied by us) for 2 years and you went shopping and campaigning, why are you now foaming at the deaths of 355 (Doctors Without Borders)-1,439 (US Secretary of State Kerry) — the numbers grow with the telling– from Sarin gas?

6. Do not pretend to a righteousness on chemical, biological or nuclear weapons, a righteousness you lack and a pretense which facts universally dispute.

7. War is not a solution, but an enterprise. Acts of aggression are not lessons but bully diplomacy, self gratification. If you must rattle a sabre, at least have the decency to rattle in person, on the field before the enemy you refuse to name, rather than from the lens of a television camera.

8. Do not engage in yet another misadventure for the honor or respect of empire. It lacks both and remains an empty shell.

9. If you must ‘send a message’, first look in a mirror, then attend to the hundreds of thousands of refugees who have left Syria and now live in squalid, uncertain conditions.

10. If you insist on the world respecting your words and promises, then speak in words that engender respect not disdain; avoid lies; regard facts; keep the promises you make rather than betray them as political expediency whispers to you or economic gain lures you.

Say NO to war.  Build a school. Repair a bridge. Fill a pot hole. Retire a general. Create a park, not a parking lot. Put down your cell phone, step away from the cameras and your desk, meet some real people.

Those are changes we can believe in.


The Frog Meditations

This is a blog I follow.  WordPress IT geeks are frankly not fond of blogs from Google or other sources.  You, however, might enjoy Jean Sheppard‘s wit, observations and especially her poems.



(Ephialtes of Trachis  betrayed his homeland in hope of receiving some kind of reward from the Persians by showing them a path around the allied Greek position at the pass of Thermopylae in 480 B.C.E.)

Ephialtes, he
who sold his birth to Xerxes
and whose name now means
traitor, he
became in treachery and greed
central to a founding myth
that winds from goat path
to Salamis and Issus, Tyre and Gaugamela,
from Xerxes and Leonidas to Darius and Alexander
back to Ephialtes, he
who sold his birth to see
his greed drown in the Aegean Sea,
and by his treachery
set a story free.


BEDO,  an acronym for Biological, Environmental Daily Observation, originated with my daughter’s 8th grade biology teacher. It was his scheme in the early 1970’s to get his students to look at and observe the world around them.

My daughter and I so enjoyed this ‘word’ (hardly a neologism as it is unlikely to enter common usage), we have adapted it across the years as a code for natural observations of all kinds. Some of these observations I will share here, under this category. You’re invited to participate.

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson remains enigmatic precisely because he was American.  Inquisitive but passionate, self-educated beyond the confines of limiting social class but always a member of that class, a fervent proponent of the Enlightenment who owned nearly 200 slaves and never freed more than a handful, practical yet visionary, hopeful – even optimistic – in the face of prolonged personal and political losses, he preached a life long sermon of limited government yet doubled the size of the country.  Continue reading