history does matter

. . . But history does matter. There is a line connecting the Armenians and the Jews and the Cambodians and the Serbs and the Rwandans. There are obviously more, but really how much genocide can one sentence handle? You get the point.

– excerpt from Chris Bohjalian’s novel The Sandcastle Girls



Criticism was always the shortest kid in the class. He learned early to use words to defend himself. As a teenager, Criticism loved to take things apart. At that time he didn’t care if they ever got put back together. He retains a strong curiosity about how things work and a deep respect for tools. Criticism is a strict father. He adores his children, but he fears their spontaneity.

Sometimes I want to write Criticism a letter and tell him to leave me alone. The problem is that when I don’t see him for a while, I start to miss him. Still, my conversations with him often make me nervous. I usually believe the bad things he says and forget about the good stuff. When we really disagree, I am upset for days and run around asking everyone I meet to reassure me. If I could trust him more, it would be different, but he changes his mind as much as I do. For all his sensitivity, it was years before he realized that other people also have feelings.

– J. Ruth Gendler, The Book of Qualities


My visits to Clarity are soothing now. He never tells me what to think or feel or do but shows me how to find out what I need to know. It was not always like this. I used to visit other people who visited him. Finally, I summoned the courage to call on him myself. I still remember the first time I went to see him. Was I surprised. He lives on a hill in a little house surrounded by wild roses. I went in the living room and sat down in a comfortable chair by the fireplace. There were topographical maps on the walls, and the room was full of stuff, musical instruments and telescopes and gloves, geodes and crystals and old Italian tarot decks, two small cats. When I left, he presented me with a sketchbook and told me to draw the same thing every day until the drawing started to speak to me.

The Book of Qualities by J. Ruth Gendler

How should we then live?

. . . Christian values, however, cannot be accepted as a superior utilitarianism, just as a means to an end. The biblical message is true and it demands a commitment to truth. It means that everything is not the result of the impersonal plus time plus chance, but that there is an infinite-personal God who is the Creator of the universe, the space-time continuum. We should not forget that this was what the founders of modern science built upon. It means the acceptance of Christ as Savior and Lord, and it means living under God’s revelation. Here there are morals, values, and meaning, including meaning for people, which are not just a result of statistical averages. This is neither a utilitarianism, nor a leap away from reason; it is the truth that gives a unity to all of knowledge and all of life. This second alternative means that individuals come to the place where they have this base, and they influence the consensus. Such Christians do not need to be a majority in order for this influence on society to occur.

Note: the title of Francis Schaeffer’s book comes from the watchman passage in Ezekiel 33:1-11, 19.

Verse 10:

Therefore, O thou son of man, speak unto the house of Israel; Thus ye speak, saying, If our transgressions and our sins be upon us, and we pine away in them, how should we then live?

a piece of history

The Serbs were true heroes.

After about a week, the Germans gave up on finding the spies and the OSS team felt they could make their way back down to the mountain to a lower elevation. As they made their way down, some of the local people told them of American airmen who were hiding from the Germans and awaiting rescue. These were not the same airmen being aided by Mihailovich in a different part of the country, but rather a smaller group of only a dozen. Their original mission compromised and all their equipment lost, Jibilian and the other agents decided it would be better if they accomplished something before they simply tried to escape from Yugoslavia. So they gathered as much information as they could from the sympathetic locals and determined where the airmen were. If they could, their plan was to go find the airmen and somehow get them out with them.

Serbia and the Serbs in World War II

Gregory Freeman’s novel about the airmen who were given refuge by the Serbs is astonishing.  Equally unbelievable is how the OSS operated and the rescue mission of these airmen.  God bless the Serbs and thank God for the leadership of Draza Mihailovich – God rest his soul.

No one writes like Edgerton! No one . . .

Clyde Edgerton continues to surprise.  No one writes as he does!

After a long afternoon ride we camped in a wood of low pines where there was grass for grazing.  My job was to hobble the remuda.

For supper we had a good stew from one Dutch oven and rice and raisins from another–Pete called it moonshine. For dessert we had lick dripped over canned Ambassador peaches and biscuits. it was the best food I’d had in a long time. Being outside, eating, tired, butt sore, the sun down, the sky purple, and the air clear and cooling fast, I felt pretty happy and comfortable.

We sat around our fire and talked for a while and the Indians and Mexicans sat around theirs. Most of the talk was done by Mr. Merriwether and the Englishman. They was sitting across the fire from each other.

books with hooks

Chris Cleave can WRITE!

Zoe was happiest when she was street racing. It was dirty and it was fast and everything you could see wanted to kill you. The car drivers were either dozy and inattentive or alert and seething, and either affliction might make them suddenly swerve out and hit you. The white chevrons you rolled on were slick in the rain and slippery with spilled diesel and strewn with broken windscreen glass that could shred your tire and spill you into the path of traffic. If you fell you could only roll like a gymnast and hope you hit the curb before you hit a car. The rain got in your eyes and made the approaching headlights a blur of speed and glare, and in the midst of this chaos you were racing another human being at the top of her game, so your heart rate was on the rivet and the adrenaline blitzed your senses.

I was hooked on Chris Cleave’s writing after I read his novel, Little Bee.  Always anxiously awaiting the next novel . . .

The Submission

Our beliefs do shape us.

Amy Waldman has written a very thought provoking novel.  The Submission is a “deeply human novel.”

Like Inam, Asma was in America illegally.  All of this official attention, she was sure, would end with her deportation. Resigned to this, she held only two hopes: that she give birth first, so that her child would be an American citizen, and that Inman’s body be found, so the three of them could fly home together. In the meantime she subsisted on money from the mosque’s Widows and Orphans Fund, to which Inam had always contributed, and on the generosity of the Mahmouds. “Stay for as long as you need to, for free,” Mrs. Mahmoud said, knowing that Asma would soon return to Bangladesh.

If you like sports

and if you like good writing


if you don’t care for sports, but appreciate excellent writing,
you will want to read Over Time My Life as a Sportswriter by Frank Deford

– writing at its best.

. . . Anyway, I was supposed to officially meet the Lakers in the hotel lobby the next morning, where we would jam into cabs, our long legs all entangled, and go to the airport. I was scared to death. This was, if you will, my debut as a traveling sportswriter. I remember picking out my best shirt and tie. I think I slicked down my hair with both Vitalis and Brylcreem. I put on my fancy new checked sports jacket and a pair of horned-rims in a vain effort to make myself look just a little older. In the lobby, I tried to appear as unobtrusive as possible, but Baylor spied me right away. You’ve got to understand Elgin was not only the star of the team then but the leader and, as well, a very good straight-faced comedian. Loudly, in his deep voice, staring directly at stylist me, he says: “I didn’t know Ralston-Purina was making sports jackets these days.”


“There are many theories as to why we have this urge to blame, and all we can be certain about it is that it is an intrinsic part of our being. We used to scapegoat out of fear of divine retribution; now for the most part we do it to live with ourselves. As individuals, we create a narrative of our lives that makes sense to us, and that fits in with our concept of ourselves. Often we shape our memories accordingly. Certainly we keep some and subconsciously discard those that do not fit, demonstrating what psychologists call confirmation bias. We can find ourselves using our brains more to construct explanations and excuses once we’ve done what our emotions dictated, so we can present to ourselves that we are rational beings. But we aren’t wholly rational beings, as a succession of thinkers and experiments have shown.

” We possess a strong self-serving bias that makes us feel special. Through this we can account for our failures and protect our sense of worth. We overrate our abilities in all sorts of ways, from intelligence to honesty.

” . . . With this capacity for self-delusion it shouldn’t be that much of a surprise that we seek to blame others. The idea of Attribution Theory states that we have an urgent need to find reasons for an event, and this leads us to leap to conclusions and hold others responsible. A bad situation couldn’t possibly be our fault, after all. When we fail at things it is because of others, those who are below average bring us down. Whereas when we succeed it is due to our innate abilities (and when others succeed, we often put it down to luck).”

hooks in books

I read this novel years ago – and think it deserves a re-read.  This is one of the books that will soon be made into a movie.  I highly recommend The Wettest County in the World by Matt Boudurant!  Excerpt below:

The brindled sow stood in the corner, glowering at the boy.  Jack Bondurant hefted a bolt-action .22 rifle with a deep blue octagon barrel, the stock chewed and splintered from brush and river stone.  He chambered a round, walked over to the sow and put the end of the barrel about a foot from a pink eye and squeezed the trigger.


is a book you will want to read!

Gillian Flynn’s novel Gone Girl will most definitely keep your interest!

Only a Snippet of the Book . . . only a teaser . . . believe me – you will want to read the novel!


My wife loved games, mostly mind games, but also actual games of amusement, and for our anniversary she always set up an elaborate treasure hunt, with each clue leading to the hiding place f the next clue until I reached the end, and my present. It was what her dad always did for her mom on their anniversary, and don’t think I don’t see the gender roles here, that I don’t get the hint. But I did not grow up in Amy’s household, I grew up in mine, and the last present I remember my dad giving my mom was an iron, set on the kitchen counter, no wrapping paper.


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