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  • Archive for the 'Poetry' Category

    Nobels & Dylan

    Posted by Ginny on 15th October 2016 (All posts by )

    In the mid-sixties, Bob Dylan’s music was the soundtrack to our lives. Now, in 2016, he’ll receive a Nobel. In that half century he’s become central to later generations and in other ways. But between the years when “everyone” quoted Childs numbers and when the Beatles took America by storm, Dylan’s voice was important. The folk singer who lived upstairs in ’65 patterned his style – music, clothes, harmonicas – after Dylan, placing roses on the stage at Pershing when Dylan played Lincoln; another friend wrote poems filled with Dylan allusions, murmuring Mr. Tambourine Man. Dylan did Nashville Skyline; in Chicago, watching him on Johnny Cash, I began to love country: a less surreal, more seductive Dylan singing Lay Lady Lay. In 1975 Austin, newly married, we bought Blood on the Tracks, with “Shelter from the Storm”

    And in 2016, he will stand another stage. His website is workmanlike; in his mid seventies, his tours continue. The “News” section doesn’t (tonight) have the Nobel listed. It’s hard to put my memories of a man who seemed to speak for and to lost boys in the context of his (and our) maturity, of all those years and all his work between then and now. For me, he remains fixed in the past, mine is ambivalence and nostalgia, but that larger, longer public context: Washington Post; Wall Street Journal; New York Times.

    If Dylan didn’t touch your life, Sohrab Ahmari’s take on one who did might be worth comment. Seven years has produced a world a less smug and ahistorical vision would have foreseen.

    Discuss?

    Posted in Arts & Letters, Music, Personal Narrative, Poetry | 12 Comments »

    Faustian Ambition (rerun)

    Posted by David Foster on 21st August 2016 (All posts by )

    A post on ambition at another blog (in 2010) , which included a range of quotations on the subject, inspired me to think that I might be able to write an interesting essay on the topic of ambition in Goethe’s Faust. This post is a stab at such an essay.

    The word “Faustian” is frequently used in books, articles, blog posts, etc on all sorts of topics. I think the image that most people have of Faust is of a man who sold his soul to the devil in exchange for dangerous knowledge: sort of a mad-scientist type. This may be true of earlier versions of the Faust legend, but I think it’s a misreading (or more likely a non-reading) of Goethe’s definitive version.

    Faust, at the time when the devil first appears to him, has devoted his entire life to the pursuit of knowledge–in many different scholarly disciplines–and is totally frustrated and in despair about the whole thing. It is precisely the desire to do something other than to pursue abstract knowledge that leads him to engage in his fateful bargain with Mephistopheles.

    If it’s not the pursuit of abstract knowledge, then what ambition drives Faust to sell his soul? C S Lewis suggests that his motivations are entirely practical: he wants “gold and guns and girls.” This is partly true, but is by no means the whole story.

    Certainly, Faust does like girls. Very early in the play, he encounters a young woman who strikes his fancy:

    FAUST: My fair young lady, may I make free
    To offer you my arm and company?
    GRETCHEN: I’m neither fair nor lady, pray
    Can unescorted find my way
    FAUST: God, what a lovely child! I swear
    I’ve never seen the like of her
    She is so dutiful and pure
    Yet not without a pert allure
    Her rosy lip, her cheek aglow
    I never shall forget, I know
    Her glance’s timid downward dart
    Is graven deeply in my heart!
    But how she was so short with me–
    That was consummate ecstasy!


    Immediately following this meeting, Faust demands Mephisto’s magical assistance in the seduction of Gretchen. It’s noteworthy that he insists on this help despite the facts that (a)he brags to the devil that he is perfectly capable of seducing a girl like Gretchen on his own, without any diabolical assistance, and (b)a big part of Gretchen’s appeal is clearly that she seems so difficult to win–a difficulty that will be short-circuited by Mephisto’s help.

    Mephisto, of course, complies with Faust’s demand…this devil honors his contracts…and Faust’s seduction of Gretchen leads directly to the deaths of her mother, her child by Faust, her brother, and to Gretchen’s own execution.

    Diabolical magic also allows Faust to meet Helen of Troy (time and space are quite fluid in this play) whom he marries and impregnates, resulting in the birth of their child Euphorion.

    So, per Lewis, yes, Faust is definitely motivated by the pursuit of women. But this is only a small part of the complex structure of ambition that Goethe has given his protagonist.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Arts & Letters, Boyd/Osinga Roundtable, Deep Thoughts, Germany, Philosophy, Poetry, Political Philosophy | 6 Comments »

    Dreams From My Taqueria

    Posted by Jonathan on 30th April 2016 (All posts by )

    Friday night bike ride.
    It appeared like a vision,
    Answering prayers.
     
    taqueria

    Posted in Photos, Poetry | 4 Comments »

    Storm

    Posted by Jonathan on 14th October 2015 (All posts by )

    Miami Storm

     
    Order Prints

    HAIKU UPDATE:

    Storm, sunset, sailboats
    Pink shadows, unsettled clouds
    Tranquil lagoon view

    Posted in Photos, Poetry | 5 Comments »

    Shakespeare in American Politics

    Posted by T. Greer on 1st October 2015 (All posts by )

    This post was originally published at The Scholar’s Stage on 30 September 2015. It has been reposted here without alteration.

    I was delighted to receive Marjorie Garber‘s Shakespeare After All in the mail this morning. Garber’s book is a thousand page review of everything Shakespeare ever wrote, with each play claiming its own chapter length analysis. The introduction of Shakespeare After All is a fascinating tour of Shakespeare’s reputation though the centuries, describing how Shakespeare’s poetry has been perceived in the days since his plays were originally performed, which of his works were most popular during various eras, and how their presentation on the page and performance on the stage has change with time. In Shakespeare’s lifetime Pericles was the most popular of his works; in the 19th century, lines from King John and Henry VIII, much neglected today, were the most likely to appear in the quote books and progymnasmata collections so popular then. Emerson bitterly lamented that Harvard, his alma mater, had no lecturer in Shakespearean rhetoric. His lament went unheeded; neither Harvard nor Yale included Shakespeare among their course readings until the 1870s. Yet for 19th century men like Emerson this really was no great loss. The American people of this era were so engrossed with Shakespeare that no one living in America could escape him: evidence of his place in America’s “pop culture in the nineteenth century [can be found in everything from] traveling troupes, Shakespeare speeches as part of vaudeville bills, huge crowds and riots at productions, [to accounts of] audiences shouting lines back at the actors. [1] I am reminded of Tocqueville‘s observation that every settler’s hut in America, no matter how squalid or remote, had a copy of a newspaper, a Bible, and some work of Shakespeare inside it. [2] Tocqueville used this as evidence to buttress his claim that the Americans were more educated and cultivated than any other people on the Earth. He may have been on to something. One cannot read the diaries, letters, and editorials of 19th century America without wondering at their eloquence and erudition. What caused this, if not the many hours they spent as children on their mother’s knee learning to read from the Jacobean English of the King James Bible and the plays of Shakespeare?   


    Garber also discusses the role Shakespearean rhetoric has played in American political culture since the founding. Quotes from Shakespeare have always been ubiquitous in American politics. They were used in the earliest days of the American republic. They are used with equal frequency today. However, the manner in which they are used has shifted  with time. This diversity may seem a small thing, but the different ways Shakespeare’s rhymes have been used through time reveal a great deal about broader and more important shifts in American political culture. This will become apparent as I describe these changes.

    A good place to start is with the Webster-Hayne debate of 1830. Of all American oratory, only the Lincoln-Douglass debates can claim greater fame than the debate Daniel Webster and Robert Hayne held on the antebellum Senate floor. At that time there was a resolution before the Senate calling for all new federal land surveys to be postponed until all of the existing land already surveyed had been sold. This struck the ire of the westerners, who pushed for federal land to be given to new settlers without charge or delay.

     In those days American politics was a sectional affair. Political outcomes often turned on forging an alliance between one region of the country and another to push through policies that might benefit both at the cost of the rest. Hayne, a South Carolina man, saw in this debate a chance to place a wedge between New England, whose delegates opposed free homesteading, and the frontier states of the West. A “coalition” (as he would call it) between Westerners and New Englanders had delivered the presidency to John Quincy Adams just a few years before. That coalition was formed in unusual circumstances, and thus was condemned in Southern circles as a “corrupt bargain” that threatened American liberties. Adam’s side denied these charges with greatest vigor, but all of the vigor in the world could not slow the democratic tide sweeping over American society. Andrew Jackson would ride this tide into the white house. Jackson, champion of mass democracy, reconfigured the landscape of American politics. His new coalition–which united men of the West, South, and the urban centers of the North–would dominate American politics for the next two decades. But Hayne and Webster had their debate only two years into this new era. It wasn’t clear that the revolution had been won; no one knew if Jackson’s coalition would prove transient or permanent. Any chance to drive New England further into the backwaters of national politics must be seized, and Hayne was eager to do the seizing.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Arts & Letters, Book Notes, Culture, Poetry | 9 Comments »

    New! – Your Friday End-of-Summer Social Justice Haikus

    Posted by Jonathan on 25th September 2015 (All posts by )

    Biking on a bridge
    Sudden drops, nowhere to hide
    Then the sky opens

    —-

    A line of stopped cars
    Because the driver in front
    Is checking his phone

    —-

    Science now gives us
    Fine antibiotic cheese
    It’s Penistilton!

    —-

    Weekend shopping trip
    Munching on Costco samples
    Low-rent living large

    —-

    Slight hesitation:
    Your cursor is telling you
    There’s a bad process

    Posted in Poetry | 5 Comments »

    New! – Your Overcaffeinated Reality-Based Haiku Extravaganza

    Posted by Jonathan on 1st May 2015 (All posts by )

    How to disconnect?
    “Windows can’t stop your volume”
    Just turn the thing off

    —-

    “TSA Pre-Check”
    It’s like receiving a gift
    That leaves your shoes on

    —-

    On TV shows now
    It’s easy to spot the tropes
    From Manosphere blogs

    —-

    Midget urinals,
    Terrible low-flow toilets –
    Can’t we do better?

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Poetry | 3 Comments »

    New! – Your Unusually Banal Friday Haikus

    Posted by Jonathan on 6th March 2015 (All posts by )

    I had all these plans
    A brief nap and suddenly
    It’s three hours later

    —-

    Good flying advice:
    Break ground, take off into wind
    And not the converse

    —-

    At the gas station
    We cringe at the dreaded words:
    See clerk for receipt

    Fix-A-Flat didn’t
    Our Costco tire warranty
    Came to the rescue

    —-

    Feel free to add your contributions in the comments.

    Posted in Poetry | 21 Comments »

    A Christmas-appropriate Poem from Rudyard Kipling

    Posted by David Foster on 23rd December 2014 (All posts by )

    (may not seem like a Christmas-appropriate post based on the first 2 stanzas, but read on…)

    “Gold is for the mistress — silver for the maid —
    Copper for the craftsman cunning at his trade.”

    “Good!” said the Baron, sitting in his hall,
    “But Iron — Cold Iron — is master of them all.”

    So he made rebellion ‘gainst the King his liege,
    Camped before his citadel and summoned it to siege.
    “Nay!” said the cannoneer on the castle wall,
    “But Iron — Cold Iron — shall be master of you all!”

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Arts & Letters, Christianity, Holidays, Poetry | 12 Comments »

    New! – Your Chicagoboyz Annual Labor Day Haiku Sale

    Posted by Jonathan on 1st September 2014 (All posts by )

    Time to say the words
    That all women yearn to hear:
    Make me a sandwich

    —-

    Wasted three-fifty
    On crummy Chinese loofa
    Caveat emptor

    —-

    New taste sensation!
    Herring poached in Mountain Dew
    Hey, where you going?

    —-

    Learned something today
    Schools don’t teach cursive writing
    Man do I feel old

    —-

    My dog has no nose
    Where have we heard this before?
    Conspiracy talk

    —-

    Waiting-room TV
    Like Harrison Bergeron
    Can’t think for the noise

    —-

    The dreaded message:
    “Windows can’t stop your device”
    Time to pull the plug

    —-

    (Feel free to add your contributions in the comments.)

    Posted in Poetry | 4 Comments »

    New! – Your Bi-Monthly Haiku of the Day

    Posted by Jonathan on 9th August 2014 (All posts by )

     
    Cramer’s hot stock pick
    Getting blasted this morning
    Fools and their money

    —-

    The Prius driver
    Accelerating slowly
    Watching mileage gauge

    —-

    Amazon Prime trial
    Expires in a couple days
    Must buy lots of stuff

    —-

    Internet hygiene:
    Pruning the Israel haters
    From your Twitter feed
     
     
     
     
     
     
    (Feel free to make your own contribution in the comments.)

    Posted in Poetry | 7 Comments »

    “How a Hamas Anthem Became a Hit in Israel”

    Posted by Jonathan on 8th August 2014 (All posts by )

    Yoram Hazony:

    A few days ago, I called a young relative who is serving in the Israeli air force and asked him: “Do you know that song—“Kum, Aseh Piguim”?
     
    Without missing a beat, he said: “You mean that song that’s a hit all over Israel? The song that all my friends are singing all the time?”
     
    “Yeah,” I said. “That song. I wanted to know if you can explain to me why they are singing it?”
     
    What I actually meant to ask was: Can you please explain to me why all the young people in Israel are singing a song entitled “Up, Do Terror Attacks”—a song recorded and released by Hamas in Gaza, which repeatedly calls for killing or expelling all the Jews from of Israel? But I didn’t have to say all that. He knew why I was asking.
     
    “It’s because it makes us feel good,” he replied.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Current Events, Israel, Middle East, Poetry, Rhetoric, Terrorism, Video, War and Peace | 2 Comments »

    Shall It Be Sustained?

    Posted by David Foster on 4th July 2014 (All posts by )

    For this Fourth of July,  Cassandra has an excellent post: Independence in an Age of Cynicism.  I recommend the entire post and all the links; read especially the third linked essay, which Cass wrote in 2008:  Why I Am Patriotic: a Love Letter to America.

    For the last several years, on July 4th I’ve posted an excerpt from Stephen Vincent Benet’s poem Listen to the People.  The title I’ve used for these posts prior to 2013 was It Shall Be Sustained, which is from the last line of Benet’s poem.

    Narrator:

    This is Independence Day,
    Fourth of July, the day we mean to keep,
    Whatever happens and whatever falls
    Out of a sky grown strange;
    This is firecracker day for sunburnt kids,
    The day of the parade,
    Slambanging down the street.
    Listen to the parade!
    There’s J. K. Burney’s float,
    Red-white-and-blue crepe-paper on the wheels,
    The Fire Department and the local Grange,
    There are the pretty girls with their hair curled
    Who represent the Thirteen Colonies,
    The Spirit of East Greenwich, Betsy Ross,
    Democracy, or just some pretty girls.
    There are the veterans and the Legion Post
    (Their feet are going to hurt when they get home),
    The band, the flag, the band, the usual crowd,
    Good-humored, watching, hot,
    Silent a second as the flag goes by,
    Kidding the local cop and eating popsicles,
    Jack Brown and Rosie Shapiro and Dan Shay,
    Paul Bunchick and the Greek who runs the Greek’s,
    The black-eyed children out of Sicily,
    The girls who giggle and the boys who push,
    All of them there and all of them a nation.
    And, afterwards,
    There’ll be ice-cream and fireworks and a speech
    By somebody the Honorable Who,
    The lovers will pair off in the kind dark
    And Tessie Jones, our honor-graduate,
    Will read the declaration.
    That’s how it is. It’s always been that way.
    That’s our Fourth of July, through war and peace,
    That’s our fourth of July.

    And a lean farmer on a stony farm
    Came home from mowing, buttoned up his shirt
    And walked ten miles to town.
    Musket in hand.
    He didn’t know the sky was falling down
    And, it may be, he didn’t know so much.
    But people oughtn’t to be pushed around
    By kings or any such.
    A workman in the city dropped his tools.
    An ordinary, small-town kind of man
    Found himself standing in the April sun,
    One of a ragged line
    Against the skilled professionals of war,
    The matchless infantry who could not fail,
    Not for the profit, not to conquer worlds,
    Not for the pomp or the heroic tale
    But first, and principally, since he was sore.
    They could do things in quite a lot of places.
    They shouldn’t do them here, in Lexington.

    He looked around and saw his neighbors’ faces

    The poem is very long, and is worth reading in full. The full text was published in Life Magazine; it is online here. The Life text may be a little difficult to read; I posted an excerpt which is considerably longer than the above here.

    Benet’s poem ends with these words:

    We made it and we make it and it’s ours
    We shall maintain it. It shall be sustained

    But shall it?

    Posted in Civil Liberties, Civil Society, History, Holidays, Poetry, Political Philosophy, USA | 3 Comments »

    New! – Your Brave New World Haikus

    Posted by Jonathan on 2nd May 2014 (All posts by )

    Local elections
    Lots of bad referenda
    Of course they all pass

    —-

    Ammo at Walmart
    Queueing up, three box limit
    Things were better once

    —-

    NSA listens
    Who the hell knows what they’ve got
    We’re all wondering

    —-

    Your student loan debt
    Makes you unmarriageable
    Might as well be gay

    Posted in Poetry, That's NOT Funny | 6 Comments »

    How Hillary Clinton & Barack Obama & Crew Want You to Live Your Life…

    Posted by David Foster on 21st February 2014 (All posts by )

    …as prefigured in a poem by W H Auden:

    He was found by the Bureau of Statistics to be
    One against whom there was no official complaint,
    And all the reports of his conduct agree
    That, in the modern sense of the old-fashioned word, he was a saint,
    For in everything he did he served the Greater Community.
    Except for the war till the day he retired
    He worked in a factory and never got fired,
    But satisfied his employers, Fudge Motors Inc.
    Yet he wasn’t a scab or odd in his views,
    For his union reports that he paid his dues,
    (Our report of his union shows it was sound)
    And our Social Psychology workers found
    That he was popular with his mates and liked a drink.
    The Press are convinced that he bought a paper every day,
    And that his reactions to advertisements were normal in every way.
    Policies taken out in his name prove that he was fully insured,
    And his Health-card shows that he was once in hospital but left it cured.
    Both Producers Research and High–Grade Living declare
    He was fully sensible to the advantages of the Installment Plan
    And had everything necessary to the Modern Man,
    A gramophone, a radio, a car and a frigidaire.
    Our researchers into Public Opinion are content
    That he held the proper opinions for the time of the year;
    When there was peace he was for peace; when there was war he went.
    He was married and added five children to the population,
    which our Eugenist says was the right number for a parent of his generation,
    And our teachers report he never interfered with their education.
    Was he free? Was he happy? The question is absurd:
    Had anything been wrong, we should certainly have heard. 

     The Unknown Citizen, W H Auden, 1940

    Posted in Arts & Letters, Britain, Poetry, Political Philosophy, Politics, USA | 2 Comments »

    A Truly Diabolical Monetary Policy (rerun)

    Posted by David Foster on 16th December 2013 (All posts by )

    (The leadership transition at the Fed inspires me to rerun this post, which initially appeared in December 2008)

    In Goethe’s Faust, Mephistopheles desires the introduction of paper money. At his instigation, courtiers approach the emperor at a masked ball and get him to sign the following document:

    To all it may Concern upon Our Earth
    This paper is a thousand guilders worth
    There lies, sure warrant of it and full measure
    Beneath Our earth a wealth of buried treasure
    As for this wealth, the means are now in train
    To raise it and redeem the scrip again

    In the bright sunlight of morning, the now-sober emperor observes hundreds of pieces of paper, each bearing his signature and claiming to be equivalent in value to gold, and demands to know what is being done to apprehend the counterfeiters.

    Treasurer: Recall–Your own self signed it at the time,
    Only last night. You stood in Great Pan’s mask
    And with the Chancellor we approach to ask:
    “Allow yourself high festive joy and nourish
    The common weal with but a pen’s brief flourish.”
    You signed: that night by men of a thousand arts
    The thing was multiplied a thousand parts
    So that like blessing should all accrue
    We stamped up all the lower series too
    Tens, Thirties, Fifties, Hundreds did we edit
    The good it did folk, you would hardly credit.
    Your city, else half molded in stagnation
    Now teems revived in prosperous elation!
    Although your name has long been widely blessed
    It’s not been spelt with such fond interest
    The alphabet has now been proved redundanct
    In this sign everyone finds grace abundant

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Economics & Finance, Poetry | 2 Comments »

    New! – Your Midweek Apropos of Nothing Haikus

    Posted by Jonathan on 14th August 2013 (All posts by )

    Stupid green features
    Mindlessly pause computer
    Just when you need it

    —-

    Had a profound thought
    But forgot to write it down
    Now it’s gone, dammit

    —-

    They’re modern women
    And yet they still expect you
    To pick up the check

    —-

    Feeling like a cork
    Cast adrift on life’s ocean
    Age does that to you

    —-

    It’s an absurd world
    Your hovercraft full of eels
    My dog with no nose

    Posted in Humor, Poetry | 8 Comments »

    New! – Your Ironic Middle-Aged Haikus of the Day

    Posted by Jonathan on 31st July 2013 (All posts by )

    Returned rental car
    They tried to charge extra hours
    Not what they quoted

    —-

    Your doctor’s office
    Miscoded the procedure
    Insurance won’t pay

    —-

    Modern vampire tales
    Even square beta guys know
    It’s porn for teen girls

    —-

    Once upon a time
    We laughed at denture glue ads
    Sadly, no longer

    Posted in Humor, Poetry | 14 Comments »

    Shall It Be Sustained?

    Posted by David Foster on 4th July 2013 (All posts by )

    For the last several years, on July 4th I’ve posted an excerpt from Stephen Vincent Benet’s poem Listen to the People. On July 7, 1941–five months before Pearl Harbor–this poem was read over nationwide radio. The title I’ve previously used for these posts is It Shall Be Sustained, which is from the last line of Benet’s poem.

    Narrator:

    This is Independence Day,
    Fourth of July, the day we mean to keep,
    Whatever happens and whatever falls
    Out of a sky grown strange;
    This is firecracker day for sunburnt kids,
    The day of the parade,
    Slambanging down the street.
    Listen to the parade!
    There’s J. K. Burney’s float,
    Red-white-and-blue crepe-paper on the wheels,
    The Fire Department and the local Grange,
    There are the pretty girls with their hair curled
    Who represent the Thirteen Colonies,
    The Spirit of East Greenwich, Betsy Ross,
    Democracy, or just some pretty girls.
    There are the veterans and the Legion Post
    (Their feet are going to hurt when they get home),
    The band, the flag, the band, the usual crowd,
    Good-humored, watching, hot,
    Silent a second as the flag goes by,
    Kidding the local cop and eating popsicles,
    Jack Brown and Rosie Shapiro and Dan Shay,
    Paul Bunchick and the Greek who runs the Greek’s,
    The black-eyed children out of Sicily,
    The girls who giggle and the boys who push,
    All of them there and all of them a nation.
    And, afterwards,
    There’ll be ice-cream and fireworks and a speech
    By somebody the Honorable Who,
    The lovers will pair off in the kind dark
    And Tessie Jones, our honor-graduate,
    Will read the declaration.
    That’s how it is. It’s always been that way.
    That’s our Fourth of July, through war and peace,
    That’s our fourth of July.

    And a lean farmer on a stony farm
    Came home from mowing, buttoned up his shirt
    And walked ten miles to town.
    Musket in hand.
    He didn’t know the sky was falling down
    And, it may be, he didn’t know so much.
    But people oughtn’t to be pushed around
    By kings or any such.
    A workman in the city dropped his tools.
    An ordinary, small-town kind of man
    Found himself standing in the April sun,
    One of a ragged line
    Against the skilled professionals of war,
    The matchless infantry who could not fail,
    Not for the profit, not to conquer worlds,
    Not for the pomp or the heroic tale
    But first, and principally, since he was sore.
    They could do things in quite a lot of places.
    They shouldn’t do them here, in Lexington.

    He looked around and saw his neighbors’ faces

    The poem is very long, and is worth reading in full. The full text was published in Life Magazine; it is online here. The Life text may be a little difficult to read; I posted an excerpt which is considerably longer than the above here.

    Benet’s poem ends with these words:

    We made it and we make it and it’s ours
    We shall maintain it. It shall be sustained

    But shall it?

    Posted in Civil Liberties, Civil Society, History, Holidays, Poetry, Political Philosophy, Politics, USA | 3 Comments »

    Kipling: McAndrew’s Hymn

    Posted by David Foster on 19th May 2013 (All posts by )

    Lord, Thou hast made this world below the shadow of a dream, 
    An’, taught by time, I tak’ it so – exceptin’ always Steam. 
    From coupler-flange to spindle-guide I see Thy Hand, O God –
    Predestination in the stride o’ yon connectin’-rod. 
    John Calvin might ha’ forged the same – enorrmous, certain, slow –
    Ay, wrought it in the furnace-flame – my “Institutio.” 
    I cannot get my sleep to-night; old bones are hard to please;
    I’ll stand the middle watch up here – alone wi’ God an’ these 
    My engines, after ninety days o’ race an’ rack an’ strain 
    Through all the seas of all Thy world, slam-bangin’ home again. 
    Slam-bang too much – they knock a wee – the crosshead-gibs are loose;
    But thirty thousand mile o’ sea has gied them fair excuse….
    Fine, clear an’ dark – a full-draught breeze, wi’ Ushant out o’ sight, 
    An’ Ferguson relievin’ Hay. Old girl, ye’ll walk to-night! 
    His wife’s at Plymouth…. Seventy-One-Two-Three since he began – 
    Three turns for Mistress Ferguson…. an’ who’s to blame the man?
    There’s none at any port for me, by drivin’ fast or slow,
    Since Elsie Campbell went to Thee, Lord, thirty years ago. 
    (The year the ‘Sarah Sands’ was burned. Oh roads we used to tread, 
    Fra’ Maryhill to Pollokshaws – fra’ Govan to Parkhead!) 
    Not but they’re ceevil on the Board. Ye’ll hear Sir Kenneth say: 
    “Good morrn, McAndrew! Back again? An’ how’s your bilge to-day?”
    Miscallin’ technicalities but handin’ me my chair 
    To drink Madeira wi’ three Earls – the auld Fleet Engineer,
    That started as a boiler-whelp – when steam and he were low. 
    I mind the time we used to serve a broken pipe wi’ tow. 

    The whole poem is here.

    Posted in Poetry, Tech | 6 Comments »

    It’s Been One Year

    Posted by David Foster on 6th March 2013 (All posts by )

    …since we lost Neptunus Lex

    Here again are some of my favorite Lex posts, most but not all of which I linked last year at this time. All are very much worth reading.

    The captain wakes before dawn…with a feeling that all is not well with the ship

    Reading Solzhenitsyn at the US Naval Academy

    Movie vs reality. Lex, who served as executive officer of the Navy Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN), answers some question’s from his daughter’s friend about the movie.

    Hornets, Tomcats, Scooters, Girls & Guys, Oh My!

    Lex, in a pensive mood

    Some reflections on a less-than-perfect carrier landing, a verbal interchange that probably shouldn’t have happened, and the nature of leadership

    Have you ever killed anyone? asked the massage therapist, after learning that Lex had been in the Navy.

    You’re having a dinner party and have the magical ability to invite 10 people–5 men and 5 women–from all of history. Who would you pick?

    A troubled pilot and an F-18: Maybe they saved each other.

    Colors and continuity.

    Tennyson’s Ulysses, personalized and hyperlinked. Created by Lex to mark his retirement from the Navy. Perhaps my favorite of all of Lex’s posts, and particularly appropriate today.

    Bill Brandt, a frequent Chicago Boyz commenter, has a tribute to the Captain at The Lexicans.

    Posted in Military Affairs, Morality and Philosphy, Obits, Poetry, USA, War and Peace | 11 Comments »

    New! – Your February Festival o’ Haikus

    Posted by Jonathan on 13th February 2013 (All posts by )

    Your cat video
    The new viral sensation
    You won’t make a dime

    Weird Asian Tweeters
    Hawking Hello Kitty junk
    What’s that all about?

    James Bond, poor fellow
    Grounded by an std
    Not like the old days

    Florida drivers
    Slowing to forty uphill
    Land torpedo time

    For Valentine’s Day
    Don’t be beta supplicant
    Make her buy dinner

    —-

    Please feel free to contribute your own efforts in the comments.

    Posted in Diversions, Poetry | 11 Comments »

    Happy New Year

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 1st January 2013 (All posts by )

    I wish I were more enthusiastic but I still wish everyone a good year. The “fiscal cliff” talks have ended about as I expected. The Republicans have pretty much rolled over. The House has yet to vote and I wonder how that will go. If they all grew a spine (or some other anatomical parts) they would vote “present” and let the Democrats pass the bill by themselves. Drudge has a link to the Breitbart story.

    According to the Congressional Budget Office, the last-minute fiscal cliff deal reached by congressional leaders and President Barack Obama cuts only $15 billion in spending while increasing tax revenues by $620 billion—a 41:1 ratio of tax increases to spending cuts.

    When Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush increased taxes in return for spending cuts—cuts that never ultimately came—they did so at ratios of 1:3 and 1:2.

    “In 1982, President Reagan was promised $3 in spending cuts for every $1 in tax hikes,” Americans for Tax Reform says of those two incidents. “The tax hikes went through, but the spending cuts did not materialize. President Reagan later said that signing onto this deal was the biggest mistake of his presidency.

    “In 1990, President George H.W. Bush agreed to $2 in spending cuts for every $1 in tax hikes. The tax hikes went through, and we are still paying them today. Not a single penny of the promised spending cuts actually happened.”

    This will be another such fake compromise. However, The Gods of the Copybook Headings are coming.

    In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
    By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
    But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
    And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “If you don’t work you die.”

    Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew,
    And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
    That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four —
    And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

    It’s too long to post all of it and, for those who are unsure of the source of the title, copybooks were supplied for all school children in England, when it was still England. The copy books had traditional aphorisms on each page that children were expected to learn.

    Another expression that relates to the books was someone “blotted his copybook.” This meant making an error that was difficult to correct.

    The “copybook headings” to which the title refers were proverbs or maxims, extolling virtues such as honesty or fair dealing that were printed at the top of the pages of 19th-century British students’ special notebook pages, called copybooks. The school-children had to write them by hand repeatedly down the page.

    The work has been described as “beautifully captur[ing] the thinking of Schumpeter and Keynes.”[2] David Gilmour says that while topics of the work are the “usual subjects”, the commentary “sound better in verse”[3] while Alice Ramos says that they are “far removed from Horace’s elegant succinctness” but do “make the same point with some force.”[4]

    I don’t think I would agree that Keynes is an example of the copybook headings’ wisdom although his recommendations have been wildly distorted by politicians.

    We are coming to a period when math will be far more determinant than wishful thinking in terms of our lives.

    As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man —
    There are only four things certain since Social Progress began —
    That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
    And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire —
    And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
    When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins
    As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn
    The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

    Hopefully, not this year. Happy New Year.

    Posted in Anglosphere, Civil Society, Economics & Finance, Education, Human Behavior, Leftism, Morality and Philosphy, Poetry, Public Finance | 5 Comments »

    Jeff Sypeck’s Gargoyle Poems

    Posted by David Foster on 21st October 2012 (All posts by )

    …are now available in book form.

    The book includes 53 poems accompanied by black-and-white photos of the gargoyles and grotesques. These poems are really good…one of my favorites is here.

    You can get the book via the usual on-line sources, the National Cathedral Store, or direct from Jeff’s site at the first link.

    Posted in Arts & Letters, History, Poetry | 1 Comment »

    WWII Airplanes on Tour

    Posted by David Foster on 28th September 2012 (All posts by )

    The Collings Foundation Wings of Freedom Tour this year includes B-17 and B-24 bombers and also a P-51 Mustang fighter. You can visit the airplanes for a small donation and, for a substantially larger donation, you can actually take a ride!. Indeed, flight instruction is available in the P-51, which is a two-seat trainer version. If the tour is coming to an airport near you, these planes are well worth seeing. Schedule here. Collings is also looking for volunteers to help organize tour stops in their locations.

    The P-51 has an interesting history. Its design was led by James “Dutch” Kindelberger, a high-school dropout who had worked as a draftsman and taken correspondence courses before gaining admission to college. Kindleberger became president of North American Aviation in 1935. When his company was approached by the British govenment to manufacture a batch of P-40 Tomahawk fighters, Kindelberger proposed instead that a new design be built. Fortunately for the world, his proposal was accepted, and the first P-51 was flown only 6 months after the order was placed.

    The P-51 had considerably greater range than previous escort fighters. Hermann Goering told his interrogators that it was when he saw P-51s over Berlin that he knew the war was lost for Germany.

    Aerial warfare is of course not only about machines; it is also about men. Randall Jarrell, a major American poet, served in the U.S. Army Air Force during the war, and wrote many poems centering around WWII air combat.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Aviation, History, Poetry, War and Peace | 26 Comments »