February 2009 Archives

I really like this from from Tony Delgrosso's blog. Reminds me of myself (But that's not the only reason I like it!)

1. Despite my blog/Twitter persona, I am often crippled by my introversion (1); I love being around interesting people, but I can only do it for a short amount of time before I need to disengage and recharge my batteries, as it were.


1. Note here the difference between shyness and introversion. I am not the least bit shy. I do, however, despise smalltalk and gladhanding. ↩

While reading Thomas Merton's The Seven Storey Mountain, I came across this passage:

 

Neither of my parents suffered from the little spooky prejudices that devour the people who know nothing but automobiles and movies and what's in the ice-box and what's in the papers and which neighbors are getting a divorce.

 

Which reminded me of this passage:

 

You can't understand. How could you? -- with solid pavement under your feet, surrounded by kind neighbours ready to cheer you or to fall on you, stepping delicately between the butcher and the policeman, in the holy terror of scandal and gallows and lunatic asylums -- how can you imagine what particular region of the first ages a man's untrammelled feet may take him into by the way of solitude -- utter solitude without a policeman -- by the way of silence -- utter silence, where no warning voice of a kind neighbour can be heard whispering of public opinion? These little things make all the great difference. When they are gone you must fall back upon your own innate strength, upon your own capacity for faithfulness.

 

--Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness (Norton Critical Editions)

The Obama family, it was reported today, plays a game called Roses and Thorns which reminded me of my son's tradition started out of the blue last December. From an earlier post:



Five questions

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At family dinner the other night my son started a family tradition by asking a series of questions of his sister, mother and me: what good thing, bad thing and silly thing, happened in your day. He reminded me of the grandmother he never knew, who made it her job to run the dining room table at home or at dinner parties. It was a great exercise.


With a nod to my son and to Merlin Mann's 5ives, here are my five questions for the dinner table:


Who did you help today?

What silly thing did you do today?

Who did you make smile today?

What did you learn today?

What did you create today?

I find this quite stirring even with the backwards running sentences and not unplentiful nature of double negatives. 
Chris Cillizza, (aka The Fix) the sharp, energetic and prolific political reporter for the Post who writes most frequently here, turned 33 recently and posted this video of Larry Bird. what I like so much about it is that a lot of the highlights are of Bird passing not just shooting. This unselfishness is one of my favorite qualities. That it can be turned to art is extraordinary in professional sports.

A great side by side version of The Canterbury Tales.

I've gotten a few email requests recently for signed copies of my book. I'm happy to sign your copy but the back and forth gets a little complicated. So here's an offer: I'll sign one of the copies I have (as long as supplies last) and send it to you. In return would you consider donating a little something to Covenant House or any other charity of your choice. I offer Covenant House because they do good work with at-risk teens, Mom was involved with their programs, and you can donate through PayPal which makes things easier. Send me your details to john@johndickerson.com and I'll get the book on its way.

UPDATE: I'm thrilled by the response. Thanks. One reader suggested Donorschoose as a favorite charity. So give to them if you'd prefer. Or anyone else for that matter.
IT might just be late, but this is good for a chuckle.
Not sure what to make of this effort to make the NYT web site easier to skim. I applaud the effort but am not blown away by the result.

jmoore21.jpg
Alix South, 6, sits next her her father, Vince South, an unemployed manufacturing worker, as he registers at a job fair. South, a father of two, was laid off from his job six months ago. According to reports, continuing claims for employment rose to over 4.7 million as of January 17, the highest since records have been kept.

Brutal pictures of what downturn is doing to this town. More here.

United Way of Clinton County.

Search Features

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Google searches in one place.

via 43 Folders Clips (One of the Merlin Mann properties)
My wife, Anne Dickerson, remembered in a flash today the slogan she came up with in 1986 when she was president of the Student government. The school yearbook said the "motto "YES WE CAN!" confused yet intrigued everyone."

I asked her if she knew about the 1980 Phillies slogan "Yes We Can". Her response: What are the Phillies?

YesWeCan.jpg
"Doctors, as a group, are big believers in sending children to school. Every doctor I've talked to is more concerned about children unnecessarily missing school than about their posing an infection risk to their classmates."

Times piece
This is my favorite biography of the 16th president and I'm happy to leave you with the impression that I've read them all. I haven't, but nevermmind.

What struck me from the start about the book was Lincoln's contention that he was merely a piece of driftwood in life, with no particular ambition or fixed goal, but merely a person who reacted to other things. "I claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have controlled me," Lincoln wrote about himself in a letter discussing his views on slavery.

Politicians are all supposed to have a plan now and act quickly and control events. When things don't work out they're supposed to get going and act or at least send someone to the cable news stations to talk about how quickly the president is going to act. Lincoln is praised in this book for his "Negative Capability" as defined by Keats, "when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason."

At this point I will stretch this idea beyond all measure and fit in Monk's advice to Steve Lacy: "Don't play everything (or everytime); Let some things go by. Some music just imagined. What you don't play can be more important than what you do." (This detour does not completely work, but it might pass the late night dorm room test and that's our only goal here.)

I should note, it is this negative capability that people often apply to the 44th president as well. No Drama etc., but the Lincoln and Obama comparisons are so overdone and frequent I'm not going make the mistake of claiming too much of a man who has not been in office more than three weeks.

Lincoln



Can be found here.
I knew something was up with that Superbowl performance.
Here's a surprise. Out of the blue, NPR re-ran this segment I made a couple of years ago.
Nancy Dickerson
Includes the discovery of a type of glass frog with skin so thin that internal organs show through it.

Frog: Ten new species of amphibian discovered in Colombia
I have a month to write and report on any topic I want. It's a wonderful gift but also a bit daunting. I can write about politics or music or art or religion, as long as there's an argument at the heart of it that I'm passionate about (This is a condition of the project but obviously goes without saying). I've got some ideas but they don't thrill me yet. So I'm looking for your help. Send me an email at John@johndickerson.com or leave a comment here. Thank you.