The New Puritans by By Anne Applebaum in The Atlantic

I’ve written that today’s culture is governed by people straight out of the Victorian Age with their humorless morals and judgments on anything previously found fun or enjoyable.

They are admittedly a strange bunch of Victorians since they condone a variety of gender identifications and sexual practices not tolerated even forty years ago.

I think it is the constant judgment, condemnation, and trumped up indignation that they share with the Victorians.

Anne Applebaum argues that these people are acting more like the Puritans. Okay. I’d agree.

Her article is a must read in The Atlantic (external link) These joyless, self-righteous, and politically active people are after your health, your mind, your job, and the education of your children.

They may have been hunting witches back in the day but now they are after you. It is easy to see that they will become the Thought Police envisioned in 1984. If they haven’t done so already.

Some of the article . . .

Except, of course, they aren’t. Right here in America, right now, it is possible to meet people who have lost everything—jobs, money, friends, colleagues—after violating no laws, and sometimes no workplace rules either. Instead, they have broken (or are accused of having broken) social codes having to do with race, sex, personal behavior, or even acceptable humor, which may not have existed five years ago or maybe five months ago. Some have made egregious errors of judgment. Some have done nothing at all. It is not always easy to tell.

Yet despite the disputed nature of these cases, it has become both easy and useful for some people to put them into larger narratives. Partisans, especially on the right, now toss around the phrase cancel culture when they want to defend themselves from criticism, however legitimate. But dig into the story of anyone who has been a genuine victim of modern mob justice and you will often find not an obvious argument between “woke” and “anti-woke” perspectives but rather incidents that are interpreted, described, or remembered by different people in different ways, even leaving aside whatever political or intellectual issue might be at stake.

There is a reason that the science reporter Donald McNeil, after being asked to resign from The New York Times, needed 21,000 words, published in four parts, to recount a series of conversations he had had with high-school students in Peru, during which he may or may not have said something racially offensive, depending on whose account you find most persuasive. There is a reason that Laura Kipnis, an academic at Northwestern, required an entire book, Unwanted Advances: Sexual Paranoia Comes to Campus, to recount the repercussions, including to herself, of two allegations of sexual harassment against one man at her university; after she referred to the case in an article about “sexual paranoia,” students demanded that the university investigate her, too. A full explanation of the personal, professional, and political nuances in both cases needed a lot of space.

There is a reason, too, that Hawthorne dedicated an entire novel to the complex motivations of Hester Prynne, her lover, and her husband. Nuance and ambiguity are essential to good fiction. They are also essential to the rule of law: We have courts, juries, judges, and witnesses precisely so that the state can learn whether a crime has been committed before it administers punishment. We have a presumption of innocence for the accused. We have a right to self-defense. We have a statute of limitations.

By contrast, the modern online public sphere, a place of rapid conclusions, rigid ideological prisms, and arguments of 280 characters, favors neither nuance nor ambiguity. Yet the values of that online sphere have come to dominate many American cultural institutions: universities, newspapers, foundations, museums. Heeding public demands for rapid retribution, they sometimes impose the equivalent of lifetime scarlet letters on people who have not been accused of anything remotely resembling a crime. Instead of courts, they use secretive bureaucracies. Instead of hearing evidence and witnesses, they make judgments behind closed doors.

editing writing revising writing Thoughts on writing Uncategorized Writing by others

E.C.T. Update, Perspective, and an Unknown Poet

4:34 AM

E.C.T. Update

In June I went to Tempe, Arizona to get electroconvulsive therapy for my nightmares which have been regularly going on since 1988.

There were to be three treatments a week for four weeks.

I stopped after the fifth treatment which produced perhaps the most terrifying experience I have ever had in my life.

The nightmares are now not as violent but my stress or high anxiety nightmares continue and my insomnia in general is far, far worse. This is far from what I hoped for. I just woke up from a terrifying dream that left me in tears. This is far from what I hoped for.

The ECT Unit at Aurora is not providing my local psychiatrist my records. She has been requesting them for two months and has met with endless and nonsensical reasons as to why they cannot be produced.

We are now going around the ECT Unit to request records from the hospital at large. After that, a complaint and a records request through the State of Arizona.

Putting Things in Perspective

A BBC reporter said yesterday that terrified Afghans seeking to flee are confronted by documentation needs, visa requirements, and Embassy rules that they simply do not understand. Any reporter is beset with crowds showing them papers that will never let them escape the Taliban.

One frightened woman showed the reporter what she thought might take her to safety. All it was was a Certificate of Appreciation for learning English. This is heartbreaking.

I’m sure our leadership remembers Viet Nam but they want to forget it. The Viet Cong might punish an entire village by killing everything in it. Right down to the fish in a goldfish bowl.

They want to forget about the power vacuum we created when we left Viet Nam, allowing Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge to flourish in Cambodia. Unintended consequences. Anywhere from 15% to 25% of Cambodia’s population was slaughtered in the name of killing their old enemies.

The rock band tool had certain gripes. Like in the song Ænema:

Fuck retro anything
Fuck your tattoos
Fuck all you junkies and
Fuck your short memories

An Unknown Poet

“All my life I have searched for something I cannot name.”

I have always liked that line but I never really thought about it. That’s not good for an editor.

It sounds deep and mystical and melancholy but what does it mean?

I think we search for the concrete rather than the abstract. Perhaps we search for something that we actually found but lost.

In my early twenties I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I took a number of aptitude tests and tried to enlist in the military.

The aptitude tests pointed toward forestry with the caveat that there were enough forestry majors coming out of West Coast colleges alone to serve the industry until 2015. This was back in 1980! As to the military, my eyesight was so bad that no branch would take me in. There was a military wide vision standard at the time and so I was 4F with all of them. And the Coast Guard. And any Reserves.

But in wanting direction I knew at the same time that what I really needed was a job. Any job. You simply can’t sit in the park and feed the pigeons and endlessly debate in your mind what you want to do. Something concrete and not abstract. I later forgot all about seeking Life’s True Purpose or Calling. I’m still not seeking that.

What else do we search for? True love? Does anyone past their teens think about that in the abstract? Finding Mr. or Mrs. Right? Really?

I think of how one woman was nice in one way and another woman was nice in another way and I can’t imagine all of those qualities in one person.

Or do most of us look back at the few moments or days when we had true love and wish those times would come again? Are we as in Proust, in search of lost time?

Here, poor Albert is terribly conflicted. Proust was sickly and spent too much time thinking about thinking.

“‘Mademoiselle Albertine has gone!’ How much farther does anguish penetrate in psychology than psychology itself! A moment ago, as I lay analysing my feelings, I had supposed that this separation without a final meeting was precisely what I wished, and, as I compared the mediocrity of the pleasures that Albertine afforded me with the richness of the desires which she prevented me from realising, had felt that I was being subtle, had concluded that I did not wish to see her again, that I no longer loved her. But now these words: ‘Mademoiselle Albertine has gone!’ had expressed themselves in my heart in the form of an anguish so keen that I would not be able to endure it for any length of time. And so what I had supposed to mean nothing to me was the only thing in my whole life. How ignorant we are of ourselves.”

— translator unknown — by Albert Proust: Book Six of Six in the series Remembrances of Things Past. Alternatively, In Quest of Lost Time.

Or, as Fitzgerald so famously ended his great book, “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

Or, as to the mystery of Rosebud in Citizen Kane,

“Charles Foster Kane was a man who got everything he wanted, and then lost it. Maybe Rosebud was something he couldn’t get or lost. No, I don’t think it explains anything. I don’t think any word explains a man’s life. No – I guess Rosebud is just a piece in a jigsaw puzzle – a missing piece.”

non-fiction writing organizing writing revising writing Thoughts on writing Uncategorized Writing tips

Revised Post on Revising

NB: I wrote this post last year and titled it “More on Revising.” (internal link) I noticed tonight that it needed more work so I have revised this post on revising. Argh. Editing never ends.

More on Revising — Updated

Editing and proofreading fiddles with copy, revising recasts. A team member submitted a page with this paragraph. He is a fine writer but under deadline. I have more time as I am generally not doing original research and writing, rather, editing and revising material already written.

Here’s the troublesome paragraph:

“When you are in a difficult situation, you don’t want your lawyer to be inaccessible, unsympathetic, and only speaks in confusing legal jargon. You want legal service that’s not only effective but compassionate as well. That’s exactly the kind of service our clients get at Donovan and Reed.”

Did you catch all the negative sounding words? They are: 1) difficult 2) don’t 3) inaccessible 4) unsympathetic 5) confusing 6) not.

Public business writing must be positive. These everyday words and phrases together present a negative tone. Instead of saying what a customer doesn’t want, say what a customer does want. And, perhaps most importantly, what the company providing the service wants as well.

It took an hour and at least ten revisions before I was happy. This time was abnormally long for a single paragraph, however, this was for a client’s home page. Home pages must be positive, copy has to move — no rambling!

Here’s my revision:

“You want a lawyer who is accessible, sympathetic, and plain speaking. You also want legal service that’s effective and compassionate. That’s what we want, too. And that’s exactly what we provide at Donovan & Reed.”

Details? Besides knocking out the negative words, I eliminated, “When you are in a difficult situation.” The customer is undoubtedly already in one if they are looking for a lawyer.

As I mentioned, it’s important to state that the law firm’s wishes are the same as the person seeking help. “We want that, too.” This invests or aligns the company with the potential customer’s concerns. It’s not just the customer desiring something, it’s the business as well.



Some Hope in this Time of Crisis

The DailyMail reports (external link)

US special forces vets launch mission to get Afghan allies out amid Biden’s chaotic withdrawal

A group of American Afghanistan veterans are in Kabul on a volunteer mission getting people to the airport

They include retired Green Berets and SEAL Team commanders who want to help the Afghan commandos that helped them in the war

They have been going out at night to escort Afghans to the airport on foot under the cover of darkness

They have also teamed up with soldiers at the airport who are defying orders to let them in

The vulnerable Afghans were using the password ‘pineapple’ to identify themselves at airport gates

A group of American war veterans in Kabul are secretly saving hundreds of Afghan Special Forces troops and their families who helped them in the war but have now been left for dead as the US withdraws from Afghanistan.

The group of special op soldiers includes retired Green Berets and SEAL Team commanders who launched the mission, which they are calling Pineapple Express, after one of the Afghan commandos they served with contacted them to say he was on the run from the Taliban. His visa had not been approved when the Taliban took over on August 14 and thousands ran for the airport.

The special ops soldiers first devised a system with US troops at the airport where they sent their comrades to a gate and told them to identify themselves with the password ‘pineapple’ to be put on a plane by the Marines on the ground. Some also showed the troops pictures of pineapples on their phones.

After successfully getting hundreds through that way, the special ops teams started going into Kabul, behind enemy lines, to rescue more of their comrades and their families in the cover of darkness.

It’s unclear how long they have been in Afghanistan and how they got there but some of those involved spoke to ABC News about the mission on Friday, explaining they simply could not leave their comrades behind.

‘I just want to get my people out,’ said one of the retired troops involved while another said the Afghan allies they were saving had a prouder sense of Democracy than some Americans.

Their astonishingly courageous efforts have saved hundreds while Biden and his team have bungled the evacuation mission by haphazardly telling some US citizens and allies to go to the airport while rejecting visas for others and leaving any Americans to fend for themselves. They are one of several ad-hoc volunteer groups on the ground that are frantically trying to save people before time runs out.

The disastrous government rescue mission became even more tragic on Thursday when ISIS bombers targeted the crowds at the airport, slaughtering 170 people with a suicide bomb that also killed 13 US troops.

It has since emerged that Biden’s administration also gave a list of Afghan allies’ names to the Taliban in the naïve hope they would then help get them out. Former President Donald Trump called it a ‘kill list’ that all but guaranteed their deaths.

The US is now one of the only nations still evacuating from Kabul amid increasing threats of another ISIS attack.


art comedy free speech politically correct

Back When People Could Have Fun

A few posts ago I showed a 1968 advertisement for SAS Airlines which promoted girl watching. You can read my post and look at the ad here (internal link). Harmless fun which would never again be published because of joyless people in the media who are as Puritanical as devout religious goers of the 1890’s.

Well, sort of. Have you seen the trailers for the new Disney film Cinderella? It shows a gay black man as the Fairy Godmother.

Here is an ad from a 1977 National Geographic. A woman’s point of view. Again, having fun that would be outlawed today. I like the word play. John Newcombe was indeed a handsome man, Australian as I recall, and the woman on the right makes a sly joke in that regard.

Today, we can’t have fun like this anymore in print. Sexist? Relax. If you are troubled by this or that SAS ad then you need therapy.

Starting in the 1920s, the Motion Picture Production Code governed what could be shown in American movies. It persisted for decades. Better minds than yours decided what you could see. It’s the same thing today but mostly unwritten.

Large advertisers pressured by dozens of special interest groups now focus on images and copy so bland and so lacking in humor that men and women can no longer have fun being men and women. No one can take a joke.

I’ve seen young men and women not even realize that a joke was being told. And when they realize that a joke was told, they look at each other to see whether it’s appropriate to laugh or not.

How depressing.


The Great Gatsby, Politicians, and Kabul

I couldn’t forgive him or like him, but I saw that what he had done was, to him, entirely justified. It was all very careless and confused. They were careless people, Tom and Daisy—they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made –

F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Update: 8:44 PM (GMT) Wednesday, August 25, 2021. MSNBC reports that all airport gates have now been closed. May God protect those left behind. My heart bleeds for you. I am so sorry.

Original post:

The United States is about to abandon tens of thousands of men and women who worked alongside America to carry out our mission in Afghanistan. We committed to saving them and now we are going to let them die. And their families.

All of us do whatever is necessary to help our friends. The politician thinks how he can help his friends if it is politically expedient. Damn promises. Damn agreements. Damn our moral obligations.

People with this state of mind pass laws to control our lives. We are governed by people who belong in a psychiatric ward under heavy medication.

No one would ever willingly listen to Biden unless he were buying them drinks. But he has seized the reins of powers and is using them to whip people into going along with his senile riddled fantasies and plans.

No one voted for Biden and he knows it. Your vote was for Trump or against Trump. Joe could never prevail intellectually or physically so for forty years he has used politics to boss people about who were far smarter than he ever will be. Talk about inferiority complexes. Although Joe has much to feel inferior about.

Hundreds of thousands of people we do not know our flowing across our southern border. We don’t know them, most don’t speak English, and they have not helped us.

The only reason the Biden administration is letting them through is to eventually change Texas to a Democrat voting state. The treasure we spend on them could have been directed to our Afghan allies. But it won’t be, it is more important to cater to the Latino voting block and to change future electoral college results.

Politicians are inherently dangerous; they more have resources than we do to help but at the same time can put our lives in danger whenever poll numbers swing or a new group comes into office.

I’ve written how everyone thinks they are smarter than they are, including politicians. The difference between them and ourselves is that the politician wants to control other people’s lives, even though they badly overestimate their intelligence and usually manage their own lives poorly.

And now we see the results. Future favorable voters coming in, true friends left to be tortured to death. As the old saying goes, I love my country but I fear my government.

“All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia.” Orwell. Politics and the English Language.

fiction Poetry Uncategorized

The Most Famous Chinese Poem


I read that this is the most famous Chinese Poem. Four lines. That’s it. That’s economy.

I don’t know Chinese so I must rely on translations. Do any of these translations appeal to you more than another? I like all of them taken together.

Quiet Night Thoughts / Thoughts on a Still Night / Thinking on a Quiet Night

by Li Bai (701-762)

1st unknown translator – external link)

Before my bed, the moon is shining bright,
I think that it is frost upon the ground.
I raise my head and look at the bright moon,
I lower my head and think of home.

2d unknown translator – external link)

Bright moonlight before my bed;
I suppose it is frost on the ground.
I raise my head to view the bight moo,
then lower it, thinking of my home village.

Wikipedia (First reference – external link)

Before my bed there’s a pool of light
I wonder if it’s frost on the ground
Looking up, I find the moon bright
Then bowing my head, I drown in homesickness

Wikipedia (Second reference – external link)

Moonlight before my bed
Perhaps frost on the ground.
Lift my head and see the moon
Lower my head and pine for home.


Golfing Joke Number One

Golfing Joke Number One

NB: Select “Play in a new window” if it stalls in Safari or on Mobile. Patience, Grasshopper. Plays quick in Chrome.

Original Post

My old boss John Gray loved golf and he loved a good joke. I always tried to have a joke for him. We hadn’t seen each for at least fifteen years when I learned he died in the hospital. That’s what happens when you lose track of people.


This was a joke that I was saving for my old loss. John Grey. Unfortunately, I never saw him again. He died in the hospital. I think this would have cheered him up, so I can’t tell it to him.

I will tell it to you. Have you heard the one about the golfer who had a wife who was a hypochondriac? She was always thinking she was getting this disease or that completely going out of her mind. She was always worried that she was going to catch the death of a cold, which would turn into pneumonia and finally kill her. Well, one day she did catch a cold.

How a little bit of slight sniffles and pronounce that this was the end to her husband. She told him, this is it. And I think that you should make plans for my death and be prepared to move on after I die. And he has heard this before. And he said, oh, come on, one, you’re not going to die.

You have a slight cold, a few sniffles. Everything is going to be all right. There’s no need for me to make preparations. And she says, no, no, no, I really feel that this is it. And I think that I think it best if you.

And then she took a slight pause. She said, you know, now that I think about it, you probably already started making preparations, haven’t you? Once you heard I had a cold? Yeah, I think you probably already. Yeah, you probably already have a girlfriend, don’t you?

And he started to laugh and said, this is ridiculous. You just have a slight cold and your imagination is starting to run away with you. You’re not going to die. There is no girlfriend. So you need you need to start making sense.

Well, she gave him another long stair and says, no, no, no, I know you. You’ve got a girlfriend. You’re already starting to take her out. You’re already starting to make plans with her, aren’t you? I mean, you’re starting to go to dinner and taking long walks in the moonlight, aren’t you?

And he said, you are really off this time. First of all, this back up, you’re not going to die. Okay? You have a slight cold. That’s it.

As for me, there’s no girlfriend. There’s no romantic dinners or any dinners. There’s no moonlight walks. And she looks at him even harder and says, no, no, no, I know you okay. You’ve gone way you on this.

You’re already starting to do the things that you used to do with me, like, like golf, right? I mean, you’re giving her lessons at this point and she’s starting to take it up. And you’re really getting ready to move on, aren’t you? And he said, okay, this is really getting stupid and silly. You don’t have a cold.

I mean, you do have a cold, but you’re not going to die. It’s just a sniffles. And there’s no golf. There’s no girlfriend there’s. There’s no moonlight walks.

There’s no dinner. There’s nothing like this at all. And she pause. Well, now your already giving this girl lessons, like I said and teaching it. And then she really started to pause, and she says, yeah, you’re doing everything with her.

And the worst of it is when I die, you’re going to let her use my club. And he looked at her and said, of course not. She’s left handed.



Does Love End at The Grave?

He Stopped Loving Her Today

by Bobby Braddock and Curly Putman

George Jones could sing anything and make it listenable. Here, we have a song from 1980 that needs no encouragement to listen. Our heartbroken man loved this woman until he died. Perhaps beyond. Does love end at the grave?

He said “I’ll love you till I die”,
She told him “You’ll forget in time”
As the years went slowly by,
She still preyed upon his mind

He kept her picture on his wall,
Went half-crazy now and then
He still loved her through it all,
Hoping she’d come back again

Kept some letters by his bed
Dated nineteen sixty-two
He had underlined in red
Every single “I love you”

I went to see him just today,
Oh but I didn’t see no tears
All dressed up to go away,
First time I’d seen him smile in years

He stopped loving her today
They placed a wreath upon his door
And soon they’ll carry him away
He stopped loving her today

You know, she came to see him one last time
Aww, and we all wondered if she would
And it kept runnin’ through my mind
“This time he’s over her for good”

He stopped loving her today
They placed a wreath upon his door
And soon they’ll carry him away
He stopped loving her today

Required Disclaimer

I do not own the credits or rights to this music. They belong to the following:
Songwriters: Bobby Braddock / Curly Putman
He Stopped Loving Her Today lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC


art editing writing non-fiction writing Uncategorized

Stupid Male Fantasies

Our society is losing the ability to distinguish between reality and fantasy. That misunderstands The Natural Order of Things and endangers free expression. It also contradicts the ongoing acceptance by society of images produced by famous photographers, film makers and visual artists.

I was watching a reaction video on YouTube by a young woman viewing Billy Wilder’s 1955 movie Some Like it Hot.

Tom Ewell plays middle age and married Richard Sherman who has a rich and vivid imagination.

Sherman is shown lost in thought when in fact he is daydreaming about women. These Walter Mitty like fantasies fade in and out of the screen but the YouTube reactor doesn’t recognize what they are until some time.

When she does realize these are fantasies she says things like, “That is so stupid,” and “Do men think that is appealing to women?” And, “That’s completely unrealistic.”

Of course they are stupid and unrealistic. They are fantasies. They are by definition unrealistic. They can be light or dark or anything in between and all men have them. This woman has led a very sheltered life. Or our politically correct times have made her think that such things don’t exist.

Richard Sherman’s fantasy life goes out of control when Marilyn Monroe appears as his upstairs neighbor with his wife and kids out of town. Hilarity ensues.

The Seven Year Itch is best remembered for the scene in which Marilyn’s white skirt is blown upwards from the rushing air of a passing subway.

The photo stills from that movie scene made Marilyn Monroe an icon. You can rest assured that many men had fantasies about Marilyn Monroe. And that they still do.

Nude photographs weren’t well tolerated in America’s 1950’s. There was an industry morals committee of some sort that controlled what movies could show. Foreign films brought into America could show more because they were considered artistic. Uh, huh. Bardot got famous that way.

Marilyn’s character at one point plays with this double standard. You have to know that years before, pictures of a young Norma Jean were bought by Hugh Hefner and published in the first issue of Playboy.

Sherman: Why did they ask you to leave?

The Girl: It was so silly. I posed for a picture in U.S. Camera and they got all upset.

Sherman: What was wrong with the picture?

The Girl: It was — it was one of these artistic pictures. On the beach, with driftwood. It got honorable mention.

Sherman: In U.S. Camera?

The Girl: It was called “Textures.”You’d see three different kinds. The driftwood, the sand and me. I got $15 an hour. It took hours and hours.

Sherman: Very interesting line of work.

Artistic, indeed.

That’s the cover story for all the artistic nude photographers who delight in getting young women in their studios to take off their clothes and then sell those images to well paying clients. And auction houses. And art museums. I’ve written on that here (internal link) but everyone knows what is going on.

All of those photos are just expressions of stupid male fantasies. I have some of my fantasies expressed in my own art gallery here (internal link). They’re pretty dark but that’s OK because we are all supposed to be ourselves. Right? And I am an artist. Right?

You think not? Probably not to most in that I am not rich or famous. Money validates everything in this society but we should not value freedom of expression on an individual’s pocketbook. Van Gogh may have sold only one painting in his life and he constantly begged his brother for paint money.

That’s enough for today.

Here’s just 10 out of 90 selections that Barnes & Noble has for sale right now.  Amazon has a lot more. As probably WalMart. Everything is excused if it makes corporate America money.