Get Busy Living or Get Busy Dying

December 26, 2016

Get busy living or get busy dying.

As this dreadful year—2016—comes to a close, Andy Dufresne’s observation won’t leave me alone. (The Shawshank Redemption—a movie based on a Stephen King novella, and a Best Picture nominee—tells the story of the wrongful imprisonment of Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins).) Those of us who walk freely can only imagine the import of Mr. Dufresne’s observation, especially as an innocent convict. Still, the words instruct us.

Life marches on, inexorably, until it ends. In too many ways, along the way, we get messages which suggest a dichotomy, as between living a long life … and living well. Exercise one hour every day and you’ll extend your life X years … but if you

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Finger Laryngitis aka Writer’s Block

December 16, 2016

Finger laryngitis aka writer’s block

My mom died almost eight weeks ago. Then my friend Mr. R’s wife passed. Then, with the sudden and completely unexpected death of Steven Phillips, my little bubble broke. Badly.

I need to digress and talk about Steven. First, he was only 70. Three score and ten might work in a Biblical portion, but it’s way short today. Yes, many of us recall the “don’t trust anyone over 30” formulation, but life marches on and 70 is the new 30. (Jack Weinberg gets credit for the phrase, and he’s 76.) Seventy is way too soon, especially when you are Steven Phillips.

Steven’s obituary captures his life far better than I ever could.

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The Accidental Life by Terry McDonell, Reviewed.

December 5, 2016

The Accidental Life by Terry McDonell, Reviewed.

The Accidental Life

I heard about The Accidental Life on National Public Radio, in a Renee Montagne interview. (Can anyone who reads Mark Rubin Writes imagine life without NPR?) I was not familiar with Terry McDonell, but I bought his book within days. Reading it has been a pleasure!

Terry McDonell has been a major-league magazine editor for decades. He served as Editor-in-Chief of Esquire, Smart, and Us Weekly, Managing Editor of Rolling Stone and Sports Illustrated, etc. Mr. McDonell’s métier? Bringing to his magazines great essays by fiction writers extraordinaire. And producing great books, weekly and monthly.

Mr. McDonell uses the essay format for The Accidental Life

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Update on Max Atticus Finch, Dog!

November 25, 2016

Update on Max Atticus Finch, Dog!

Max Atticus Finch

Max Atticus Finch

Max Atticus Finch turned three last Monday, November 21. I know he turned three because I got him on November 21, 2015, and the rescue group told me he was two. (Museum visitor to guard: “How old is that T-Rex? Guard: “Six billion and 13 years old.” MV: “Wow.” G: “Yep, I’ve been here 13 years, and he was six billion years old on my first day.”)

We have shared 369 joyful days together, me and Max … but for day 368, and a few others. Thanksgiving morning left Max hot and bothered, when I told him the festivities did not include him. Yes, you went last year, I thought, but

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Some Thanksgiving Thoughts

November 21, 2016

Rachel Martin wrapped up several years as the host of National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition Sunday on November 20. She closed out her time on the show with the following words:

When I was young, I wanted to be a cantor. It didn’t matter that I was a Presbyterian girl from Idaho. I saw Neil Diamond in the movie “The Jazz Singer,” and that was it. I wanted to grow up and be a cantor. I didn’t know what those prayers meant. I did not understand Hebrew. I just wanted to learn what it was all about. And that started something for me – asking questions about people who weren’t like me, who came from different backgrounds and different

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2016 Election Thoughts – Part VI (DJT)

November 19, 2016

2016 Election Thoughts – Part VI (DJT)

I’ve written many words about Donald Trump. None of them have been kind. Now, I find myself wanting, with precious little to say which hasn’t already been said.*

Most people say, We’ll get through this. Probably. But maybe not. No immutable law says the United States of America will last forever. That it has lasted for 228 years does not mean we have another 228 years to go. Or 28, or even eight.

Authoritarianism—a desire for order and a fear of outsiders—explains Mr. Trump’s victory. Vox had the goods in The Rise of American Authoritarianism, written by Amanda Taub in March 2016. (For non-clickers, Ms. Taub reports on research which demonstrates the

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2016 Election Thoughts – Part V (Random Matters)

November 18, 2016

2016 Election Thoughts – Part V (Random Matters)

Income Taxes

Donald Trump plans tax cuts. Estimated cost? $7,000,000,000,000, over 10 years. (That’s $7 trillion, if lots of zeros challenge you.) How does Mr. Trump plan to cover the $7 trillion shortfall? Easy. The tax cuts will grow the economy. Just like they did didn’t under Presidents Reagan and Bush II. Alas, as former Vice President Dick Cheney told Secretary of the Treasury Paul O’Neill in 2004: “… Reagan proved that deficits don’t matter. We won the mid-term elections, this is our due.”

From a personal perspective, the tax cuts will affect me. I looked at a variety of sources. The consensus reflects a roughly $4,000 increase in my federal income

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2016 Election Thoughts – Part IV (Trump’s Base)

November 15, 2016

2016 Election Thoughts – Part IV (Trump’s Base)

Books will be written about the angry people who elected Donald Trump. I lack the knowledge base, the data, and the time to do the subject justice. I do, however, have some thoughts.

There was a Trump Supporter, the other day, whose comments on Facebook followed this path:

Trump Supporter: He also promised to “build a wall” at the border, but that never meant a physical brick/stone/concrete wall between USA & Mexico. It also means security and upgraded patrols.

Trump Opponent: It absolutely meant an actual physical wall! I read where he actually described in detail how the wall would be made!

TS: You can’t build a wall across a river, for

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2016 Election Thoughts – Part III (Petitions / Protests)

November 14, 2016

2016 Election Thoughts – Part III (Petitions / Protests)

I don’t like the petitions directed at electors, asking them to vote for Hillary Clinton because she won the popular vote. On protests, my thoughts are more complicated.

I’m devastated by the election outcome. It’s a dreadful, shameful, and downright effing scary time for me and many others! Donald Trump does not belong in the White House, and so, so much must change before reasonable people might reach different conclusions.

That all said, that Mr. Trump was not ready to acknowledge that the election was fair, as late as last Monday, is yesterday’s news. The breathless reporting about all of the defalcations too many people ignored before Election Day matters

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2016 Election Thoughts – Part II (Common Facts)

November 13, 2016

2016 Election Thoughts – Part II (Common Facts)

Common facts? Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the late great Senator from New York (whose seat Hillary Clinton was elected to on his retirement in 2000), told us “everyone is entitled to his opinion, but not his own facts.” (I wrote about common facts and one other issue in Core Issues about Public Discourse, on July 25, 2015.) Alas, if Senator Moynihan was alive today, he’d know he’d been ignored. Repeatedly.

On Monday, November 7—a different era—Diane Rehm hosted How The U.S. Government Is Supposed To Work And Why Many Think The System Is Broken. Her guests were Norm Ornstein from the American Enterprise Institute, E.J. Dionne from the The

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