30 November 2022
The era of procrastination, of half measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays, is coming to its close. In its place, we are entering a period of consequences.
Sir Winston Churchill, born on this day in 1874, from the House of Commons, November 12, 1936
29 November 2022
The great object of Education should be commensurate with the object of life. It should be a moral one; to teach self-trust: to inspire the youthful man with an interest in himself; with a curiosity touching his own nature; to acquaint him with the resources of his mind, and to teach him that there is all his strength, and to inflame him with a piety towards the Grand Mind in which he lives.
I believe that our own experience instructs us that the secret of Education lies in respecting the pupil. It is not for you to choose what he shall know, what he shall do. It is chosen and foreordained, and he only holds the key to his own secret. By your tampering and thwarting and too much governing he may be hindered from his end and kept out of his own. Respect the child. Wait and see the new product of Nature. Nature loves analogies, but not repetitions. Respect the child. Be not too much his parent. Trespass not on his solitude.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, from "Education"
Education without values, as useful as it is, seems to make man a more clever devil. What you see, what you hear, and what you learn, depends a great deal on where you are standing. It also depends on what sort of person you are.
C.S. Lewis, born on this day in 1898
28 November 2022
26 November 2022
Let me reiterate the spirit of Michigan. It is based upon a deathless loyalty to Michigan and all her ways; an enthusiasm that makes it second nature for Michigan men to spread the gospel of their university to the world's distant outposts; a conviction that nowhere is there a better university, in any way, than this Michigan of ours. True loyalty is that quality of service that grows under adversity and expands in defeat. Any street urchin can shout applause in victory, but it takes character to stand fast in defeat. One is noise – the other, loyalty.
Fielding H. Yost, head football coach at the University of Michigan (1901–1923, 1925–1926)
We’re gonna win the championship again because we’re gonna play as team, better than anybody else in this conference, we’re gonna play together as a team. We’re gonna believe in each other, we’re not gonna criticize each other, we’re not gonna talk about each other, we’re gonna encourage each other. And when we play as a team, when the old season is over, you and I know, it’s gonna be Michigan again ... Michigan.
25 November 2022
Reynolds, Dusk, the Outbuildings, 1957
NOVEMBER, LATE in the DAY
So this is aging: the bare sun, skinned,
palely bucking the dark wind,
slides through the glass, crawls on the carpet,
climbs the footboard, lies crosswise on the blanket,
a spoiled dog waiting to be fed.
Not now, dear warmth. The kindling’s in the shed,
too far to fetch. Those two great logs that close
together to make fire, repose
apart, an old couple reminiscing
on conflagrations they’re now missing:
how every sunny Saturday afternoon,
Hey, diddle-diddle, the dish ran away with the spoon.
Not yet, dear spoon. Some hotter day, dear dish.
No tidbits now. Instead, let’s make a wish,
and boil fresh water for the small teapot
to keep it piping hot.
John M. Ridland
Mednyánszky, Autumn Landscape in the Early Evening, 1880
No sun — no moon!
No morn — no noon —
No dawn — no dusk — no proper time of day.
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member —
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds! —
They were hungry for lunch and the bottle of white wine was cold and they drank it as they ate the celery remoulade and the small radishes and the home pickled mushrooms from the big glass jar. The bass was grilled and the grill marks showed on the silver skin and the butter melted on the hot plate. There was sliced lemon to press on the bass and fresh bread from the bakery and the wine cooled their tongues from the heat of the fried potatoes.
Ernest Hemingway, from The Garden of Eden
Sir Roger Scruton on the value of real music ...
The background sounds of modern life are ... less and less human. Rhythm, which is the sound of life, has been largely replaced by electrical pulses, produced by a machine programmed to repeat itself ad infinitum, and to thrust its booming bass notes into the very bones of the victim. Whole areas of civic space in our society are now policed by this sound, which drives anybody with the slightest feeling for music to distraction, and ensures that for many of us a visit to the pub or a meal in a restaurant have lost their residual meaning. These are no longer social events, but experiments in endurance, as you shout at each other over the deadly noise.There are two reasons why this vacuous music has flown into every public space. One is the vast change in the human ear brought about by the mass production of sound. The other is the failure of the law to protect us from the result. For our ancestors music was something that you sat down to listen to, or which you made for yourself. It was a ceremonial event, in which you participated, either as a passive listener or as an active performer. Either way you were giving and receiving life, sharing in something of great social significance.With the advent of the gramophone, the radio and now the iPod, music is no longer something that you must make for yourself, nor is it something that you sit down to listen to. It follows you about wherever you go, and you switch it on as a background. It is not so much listened to as overheard. The banal melodies and mechanical rhythms, the stock harmonies recycled in song after song, these things signify the eclipse of the musical ear. For many people music is no longer a language shaped by our deepest feelings, no longer a place of refuge from the tawdriness and distraction of everyday life, no longer an art in which gripping ideas are followed to their distant conclusions. It is simply a carpet of sound, designed to bring all thought and feeling down to its own level lest something serious might be felt or said.
Kurt recently referenced an article on the Harkness Method which detailed the benefits of face-to-face discussion in the classroom.
In my experience there are three reasons why the approach is an effective one ...
- Student thought and participation drives the exploration. As Socrates said, the role of a teacher is to work themselves out of a job, making students learning more self-directed and purposeful.
- The Harkness/Socratic Method removes any bias and/or gaps present in the teacher's understanding that would otherwise hinder the potential of student growth. This, hopefully, transforms everyone in the room into a learner.
- Most importantly, students must learn and respect the basic rules of what we call "scholarly discourse" in order to maximize the potential of the learning experience. Listening and inquiry play a greater roles than pronouncements in producing depth.
Applied in a classroom, a newsroom, or breakroom, the method works because it teaches a critical and respectful approach to the clash of ideas.
Keith Jackson's remarks at the 1990 Salute To Bo ...
Leave me with no compromise on things half-done. Keep me with a stern and stubborn pride and when at last the fight is won, God, keep me, still, unsatisfied.
24 November 2022
23 November 2022
No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People.
I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.
Abraham Lincoln, from his "Thanksgiving Proclamation" from October 3, 1863
An excellent book ...
We shall never fully understand nature (or ourselves), and certainly never respect it, until we dissociate the wild from the notion of usability - however innocent and harmless the use. For it is the general uselessness of so much of nature that lies at the root of our ancient hostility and indifference to it. The evolution of human mentality has put us all in vitro now, behind the glass wall of our own ingenuity.
John Fowles, from The Tree
22 November 2022
Volkov, The Old Divide, n/d
WRITTEN in NOVEMBER
Autumn, I love thy parting look to view
In cold November's day, so bleak and bare,
When, thy life's dwindled thread worn nearly thro',
With ling'ring, pott'ring pace, and head bleach'd bare,
Thou, like an old man, bidd'st the world adieu.
I love thee well: and often, when a child,
Have roam'd the bare brown heath a flower to find;
And in the moss-clad vale, and wood-bank wild
Have cropt the little bell-flowers, pearly blue,
That trembling peep the shelt'ring bush behind.
When winnowing north-winds cold and bleaky blew,
How have I joy'd, with dithering hands, to find,
Each fading flower; and still how sweet the blast,
Would bleak November's hour restore the joy that's past.
[Wine] paints the world before us as the true one, and reminds us that if we have failed previously to know it then this is because we have failed in truth to belong to it, a defect that it is the singular virtue of wine to overcome.
Sir Roger Scruton, from I Drink Therefore I Am: A Philosopher’s Guide to Wine
Dear friends, know that all your beaver and books of account are swallowed up in the sea; your letters remain with me and shall be delivered if God bring me home. But what more should I say? By this we have lost our worldly goods — yet a happy loss if our souls are the gainers. There is more in the Lord Jehovah than ever we had in this world. O that our foolish hearts could be weaned from things here below, which are vanity and vexation of spirit; and yet we fools catch after shadows that fly away and are gone in a moment!
William Bradford, from Of Plimouth Plantation
Blyth, Abigail Adams, 1766
These are the times in which a genius would wish to live. It is not in the still calm of life, or the repose of a pacific station, that great characters are formed. The habits of a vigorous mind are formed in contending with difficulties. Great necessities call out great virtues. When a mind is raised, and animated by scenes that engage the heart, then those qualities which would otherwise lay dormant, wake into life and form the character of the hero and the statesman.
Abigail Adams, born on this day in 1744, from a letter to John Quincy Adams, January, 19, 1780
21 November 2022
Now I want to tell you about a principle that can and will change your whole life, if you will start to use it consciously; that imagination creates reality. Would you like to put it to a test right in this room?
Some people have come in and sat down beside you. These people alongside of you have their handkerchiefs out, dabbing their eyes, sitting there all tense. You're sitting back relaxed. You're enjoying the scenery, the action and all. Why? Because you've already seen the end. You know how it comes out.
This is exactly what happens when you use your imagination to create reality. You see the thing you want, from completion backward. For example -- you've all worked where this has happened -- the boss, in some weak-minded moment, puts on some goof who doesn't know beans about selling. But here he is, sitting in meetings with you experts. "Well, it's beginner's luck," you say. It may be, I wouldn't know that, but I know this, he sweeps competition ahead of him. Why? Because all he knows is success. Our subconscious can't distinguish between the actual experience and the imaginary one, if it is imagined vividly. It will accept the imagined experience and immediately set about to bring it into reality. That's its job, its response. Imagination creates reality.
I have given you examples of the unconscious use of the imagination in creating reality. I'm seeing the thing from completion backward --- and I'll get my share of the business.
A THANKSGIVING POEM
The sun hath shed its kindly light,
Our harvesting is gladly o’er
Our fields have felt no killing blight,
Our bins are filled with goodly store.
From pestilence, fire, flood, and sword
We have been spared by thy decree,
And now with humble hearts, O Lord,
We come to pay our thanks to thee.
We feel that had our merits been
The measure of thy gifts to us,
We erring children, born of sin,
Might not now be rejoicing thus.
No deed of our hath brought us grace;
When thou were nigh our sight was dull,
We hid in trembling from thy face,
But thou, O God, wert merciful.
Thy mighty hand o’er all the land
Hath still been open to bestow
Those blessings which our wants demand
From heaven, whence all blessings flow.
Thou hast, with ever watchful eye,
Looked down on us with holy care,
And from thy storehouse in the sky
Hast scattered plenty everywhere.
Then lift we up our songs of praise
To thee, O Father, good and kind;
To thee we consecrate our days;
Be thine the temple of each mind.
With incense sweet our thanks ascend;
Before thy works our powers pall;
Though we should strive years without end,
We could not thank thee for them all.
Paul Laurence Dunbar
[I]n the spiky fall season, days like today with the little chill that makes one feel freshly laundered ...
Thanks for the introduction, Kurt.
20 November 2022
It was after the hour of the table d’hote, so that I was obliged to make a solitary supper from the relics of its ampler board. The weather was chilly; I was seated alone in one end of a great gloomy dining-room, and, my repast being over, I had the prospect before me of a long dull evening, without any visible means of enlivening it. I summoned mine host and requested something to read; he brought me the whole literary stock of his household, a Dutch family Bible, an almanac in the same language, and a number of old Paris newspapers. As I sat dozing over one of the latter, reading old news and stale criticisms, my ear was now and then struck with bursts of laughter which seemed to proceed from the kitchen. Every one that has travelled on the Continent must know how favorite a resort the kitchen of a country inn is to the middle and inferior order of travellers, particularly in that equivocal kind of weather when a fire becomes agreeable toward evening. I threw aside the newspaper and explored my way to the kitchen, to take a peep at the group that appeared to be so merry. It was composed partly of travellers who had arrived some hours before in a diligence, and partly of the usual attendants and hangers-on of inns. They were seated round a great burnished stove, that might have been mistaken for an altar at which they were worshipping. It was covered with various kitchen vessels of resplendent brightness, among which steamed and hissed a huge copper tea-kettle. A large lamp threw a strong mass of light upon the group, bringing out many odd features in strong relief. Its yellow rays partially illumined the spacious kitchen, dying duskily away into remote corners, except where they settled in mellow radiance on the broad side of a flitch of bacon or were reflected back from well-scoured utensils that gleamed from the midst of obscurity.
Washington Irving, from "The Inn Kitchen", found in The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent.
We affirm that there are good things in the world, gifts and benefits we’ve received ... we recognize that the sources of this goodness are outside of ourselves. We acknowledge that other people gave us many gifts, big and small, to help us achieve the goodness in our lives.
18 November 2022
17 November 2022
Gordon Lightfoot was born on this day in 1938.
The lake is blue, the sky is gray, the leaves have turned to goldThe wild goose will be on her way, the weather's much too coldWhen the muskie and the old trout too have all gone down to restWe will be returning to the things that we love best ...