Dueling Metaphors: The Tortoise and the Hare

“Slow and steady wins the race”, concluded Aesop. A lesson served by dueling metaphors, and a would-be Conservative election platform, written some 2500 years ago. Perhaps this story could be aptly renamed “The Elephant and the Donkey”.  See link below.

via Dueling Metaphors: The Tortoise and the Hare.

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Trump Supporters Would Over Look His Killing Someone

“I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters,” Trump said

I am flabbergasted that any candidate for public office would say this, even at the lowest level local race. These are words of a megalomaniac reaching for the ultimate in political incorrectness.

Even if he intended his comment to be hyperbole, it was sheer tastelessness and an insult and should be to his supporters. And he said it in the wake of countless terrorism attacks in schools and churches. I believe he was speaking at a Christian college.

He’s a loose cannon. Please, Americans, stop supporting this man.

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Reading: What It’s Teaching Me

When you’re in grad school, especially in English lit, you do a lot of reading.   It may sound odd to some that sitting and reading can be a passion, but for me it has been — fully as much as the passion football fans feel this time of year for the next gluttonous ingestion of yet another bowl game. (I do watch football.) Yesterday evening I passed yet another three hours reading a favorite author by the name of Louise Penny.  She’s written eleven novels, mysteries that reach literary realms.  I have two or three to go.  Last night it occurred to me that my passion is no less sedentary than the average bowl watcher.  Only the players on the field and the characters in the novel are getting any exercise. In both cases the experience is totally vicarious for the bystander.

I admit that bellying up to the telly is far more social than watching football unless you are a single viewer which I was.  I had no one to share the murder of a hermit with, nor the behavior of two gay bistro owners. And yet book and game served up relatively equal amounts of suspense and human error. An artist’s moral dilemma was deeper and more affecting than the quarterback’s.  For one thing, the artist had a moral dilemma.  In both a novel and a football game I always stay to the end.  Such staying seems to bear a lesson for life. The novel holds more complexity it seems to me.  The novel leaves more to think about than the game, but then  I may simply be favoring a personal preference.

In graduate English studies you read the best that has been thought and said over time by many voices, the voices of wisdom.  A doctoral student reads very little contemporary literature.  Immersion in good, current writing is quite refreshing after years in the museum of literature. One reads contemporary for pleasure, exposure, diversion, perhaps relevance to the times. Penny’s world of Three Pines, Quebec, cannot be found on any map.  And the level of mystery far exceeds what could be found in a real village of similar size.  And there are not in the real world many towns with a crazy poet trailed by a pet duck wearing a raincoat.  All the characters are exquisitely drawn as are their crimes, misdemeanors and foibles.  The reader loves them and feels their emotions in ways impossible of football players.

Louise Penny’s The Brutal Telling is a wilderness, real and figurative and there’s no concession stand in sight.  David Milliken

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Does fascism come from the right or the left?

130924_FOR_TOPChamberlainHitler.jpg.CROP.promo-mediumlargeWho are the socialists and who are the fascists?  The answer is rather mixed.  The Nazis were “national socialists” and then we had the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.  It was all a rather mixed bag of leftists and rightists who came together in authoritarianism/totalitarianism.  Here’ are some answers.


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Tramp, Tramp, Tramp the Trump Beats Go On

Aren’t you tired of it all: the waving hand, the petulant demeanor, the mindless cant, the absurdity, the embarrassment and on it goes?  I try to imagine a President Trump seated around a table with Cameron of Britain, King Abdullah of Jordan, Merkel of Germany and I am embarrassed for my country. I cannot conceive of Trump with a finger poised and hovering over the big red button.

In a President I want thoughtfulness, patience, a cool mind — maybe even a modicum of warmth.  Not in this guy.  I want a real life manifestation of Michael Douglas as the American President. I want courage over foolhardiness. Above all, I do not want a cynic in the White House.

Tired, oh so tired of this quadrennial spectacle.

David Milliken

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Dag Hammarskjold death: UN ‘should reopen inquiry’ – BBC News

It said the claim of an aerial attack, which might have caused the descent of the plane by direct damage or by harassment, was capable of being proved or disproved.

The report said that given the NSA’s worldwide monitoring activities at that time, “it is highly likely” that the radio traffic on 18-19 September 1961 was recorded by the NSA and possibly also by the CIA.

The report said: “Authenticated recordings of any such cockpit narrative or radio messages, if located, would furnish potentially conclusive evidence of what happened to the DC6.”

via Dag Hammarskjold death: UN ‘should reopen inquiry’ – BBC News.

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When the Supreme Court is this wrong, it’s time to overrule them

Surveys show that a large majority of American citizens across the political spectrum oppose the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision that opened the door to unlimited political spending by global corporations and powerful unions. Yet when asked about the prospect of passing a constitutional amendment to reverse the decision, too many people argue that it would be “too hard,” even “impossible.”This argument lacks historical perspective. Every step on the path to fulfill the promise of the American Revolution was “too hard,” but Americans did it anyway. Hard, yes; yet constitutional amendments have come in waves during times of challenge — and Supreme Court obstinacy — much like our own.

via When the Supreme Court is this wrong, it’s time to overrule them.

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Literature as Teacher: Conrad’s “Youth”

I just re-read Conrad’s “Youth,” a short story. Marlow, the narrator and an old sailor tells a story to old drinking mates. He does a beautiful job of showing the energy and audacity of youth in contrast to the perspective of age and wisdom. Marlow has submitted to fate as good sailors must. He does not regret any misdirections he took in youth. Youth does what youth does. He doesn’t see folly in his youth, just the facts of energetic, essential innocence. Age has its essential experience. If youth had foresight, a man would have no youth. Hindsight given right wisdom should bring serenity and gratitude that you survived a burning ship. The image of a slow burning fire in the hold is powerful, grippingly present. What a motivator — a fire in the hold known only by insidious smoke and steam from below.  David Milliken

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Dag Hammarskjold, Hero of the UN Charter

In Katanga 1960I cannot fully explain my fascination with this man and his life. He was never my friend in the flesh and yet he was, a vicarious one.  I have had other vicarious friends because of what they were, what they did, what they tried to do and failed, how they dreamed and died and were forgotten.  Few people today have even heard of Dag Hammarskjold.  He was not the martyred, eloquent reformer as Martin Luther King  was.  He was not the towering, martyred statesman as Abraham Lincoln was.  Hammarskjold never crusaded like Joan of Arc  There was no flamboyance in the man. His suit was a little rumpled. Quite the contrary, he was artistic. poetic contemplative — a quiet man who performed no miracles. An acquaintance of celebrity, he was no celebrity.  Hammarskjold was not assassinated in a theatre box, nor shot on the street nor burned at the stake.  His plane, the Albertina, just crashed in the heart of darkness near the source of the Congo in 1961.  His martyrdom is still unproved.

He was accused of having a Christ-complex  — a criticism now discredited.  He was simply an imitator of Christ as all Christians are asked to be.  But he did it. As a diplomat and negotiator little was more important than the use of language, the word. A man’s word is sacred.  If Jesus, as Hammarskjold said was the “hero of the Gospels,” this Secretary-General was the hero of the UN Charter.  He lived and died as a peacemaker,

As most of his advocates, I discovered Dag Hammarskjold sometime in the Sixties, but I cannot remember precisely when.  Over the years he has often banished my insomnia and inspired my soul.  You must know his diary, Markings,  to love the man — and much more.  Soon you discover that he’s a disciple of Christ in a summer suit behind a podium.  And his words are a threshold to Another Place.   I am just at the threshold.  David Milliken

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“Hammarskjold A Life” Recommended When the Climb Seems Endless

In Katanga 1960Mountain climbing  is a life metaphor for Hammarskjold, especially “when the leg muscles quiver under the strain, the climb seems endless, and suddenly, nothing will go quite as you wish — it is then that you must not hesitate.”(Markings. p.124)  For in life as well as in the complex prose of Hammarskjold A Life striding its way up slope through the complexities of diplomacy, international relations. history and world politics in search of a summit, the reader must not hesitate for clearings do appear.  But have no expectation of ultimate understanding and truth.  This book like its subject is about unrelenting perseverance and faith.  Lipsey’s journey is worth the studied effort required.  Frequent stops along the trail and slow sipping of water are necessary.

I do not recall exactly when or how I discovered Dag Hammarskjold, nor does Lipsey in his experience. I may have been as young as nineteen.  That was when the Albertina crashed in the Congo, killing all aboard.  More and more I am convinced that Dag Hammarskjold was martyred to the cause of peace and justice in the world.  I believe he lived his spiritual life and worldly mission in the imitation of Christ; yet nowhere can I find him self-righteous nor sanctimonious.  Like David he faced off against secular giants like Khrushchev, DeGaulle and Chou En Lai.  While he was thoroughly Christian, he could not and did not wear it on his sleeve.  He couldn’t because he lived and breathed the ideals of an enormous secular organization.  He represented the nexus of all the world’s religions where they meet in peace and justice.

And he was a poet.  Percy Bysshe Shelley in his “A Defence of Poetry” extols the ultimate poet as a person of action as well as beauty.  Hammarskjold represents that kind of hero as an “unacknowledged legislator of the world.”  I suppose one could place Lincoln and Martin Luther King in such a category, but they have been acknowledged by history.  Perhaps the pending investigation by the UN into the mystery of the  Hammarskjold death will finally make him one of the acknowledged.

If you want to know this man a little, start with his Markings, his conversation with God.  Next, take up Lipsey’s Dag Hammarskjold.  Lipsey’s work links Hammarskjold’s trail marks with specific events in the Secretary General’s life.                 David Milliken

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