Ruminations of a Feisty Old Quaker

We are better people than this.

January 8, 2018

Tags: politics, people, compassion, courage, greed

We are not so poor in material goods that we cannot share with others, nor so poor in spirit that we will refuse to share.

We are not so shallow that we care only for wealth, nor so short-sighted that we will destroy the only Earth we have to obtain it.

We are not so fearful that we must build walls against immigrants, nor so intolerant that we will shut our doors against neighbors who are not exactly like the rest of us.

We have elevated a greedy fool to the presidency, but that greedy fool does not represent who we are. We have elected a Congress that puts the welfare of the extremely wealthy above the welfare of the rest of us, but that Congress does not represent who we are, either.

We are better people than this.

We are compassionate. Our hearts warm to tales where justice and fairness triumph. We honor those who sacrifice themselves to save others. We always root for the underdog.

We are courageous. We are not afraid to tackle big projects, nor to set lofty goals. We are persistent; we are not easily disuaded by setbacks. We are not reckless, but true courage never is. True courage retreats when it is prudent to do so - and then finds ways to advance again.

We are wise. We have created a constitutional democracy which, though often abused, has nevertheless lasted intact for well over two centuries. We have placed limits on the powers of our leaders to command obedience. We have created legal barriers against destruction of our common property, and against mistreatment of individuals based on who they are rather than what they do. We have protected places of beauty, and places of great natural wealth, against the whims of those who would destroy those places solely for financial gain.

Above all, we are resourceful. We are a nation of tinkerers. We create things; we fix things; we find ways to make things happen. We may be impatient, and we may occasionally cut corners, but always out of the sticks and wheels and wires and patches comes something that works. This applies equally well to our social and political structures as it does to our machines. We are doers; we are makers. And our eyes are always on the stars.

We are living today through difficult times. Greed is ascendant, and is rapidly using its power to remove all existing limits on the flowering of further greed. Lies have replaced truth in public discourse; growth is pursued regardless of cost. Selfishness has replaced community as our principal value. We have been encouraged to see ourselves, not as companions on a journey, but as victimizers and their victims. The most important of all freedoms, the freedom of the ballot box, is under attack.

But this cannot and will not continue. Greed and selfishness carry the seeds of their own destruction. Human lives - the lives of our families and friends and neighbors, the lives of the poor and marginalized, the lives of all people everywhere - are not an acceptable cost of business. Growth is no longer good when it threatens the resources we depend upon for our existence. Dr. King was right: the long arc of the universe does indeed bend toward justice. It bends toward justice, because we have bent it that way.

And we will bend it again now.

Because we are better people than this.

I'm Sticking with NoteWorthy Composer. Here's Why.

December 21, 2017

Tags: music, music notation software, Noteworthy Composer, MuseScore, Finale, Sibelius, Dorico

(NOTE: if you are a non-musician, you may safely ignore this post.)
(ADDITIONAL NOTE: Noteworthy did not pay me to write this.)

If you are a musician in today's world, you use music notation software. That is a given. You may still use staff paper and a pencil to write down your ideas, or even to compose whole pieces; but if you are going to share them with the world, the world will expect the scores you produce to be computer-engraved. From this it follows that, when musicians gather, sooner or later the conversation will always get around to (more…)

Of The People, By The People, and For The People

October 27, 2017

Tags: government, taxes, government workers

I am a former government worker.

That's not a confession, that's a point of pride. I was a librarian; I worked for a county library system. For eighteen years, I helped people find information they needed in a collection of books and journals and other documents which they owned but (more…)

Wake-Up Call

October 12, 2017

Tags: climate change, wildfire, hurricanes, externalities, wine

Are we awake yet?

As I write this, there are 22 wildfires raging
- that word is accurate - raging through California's Sonoma and Napa valleys and the eastern part of the Central Valley, along the base of the Sierra. At least 3500 homes and businesses have been destroyed. Thousands of people have been evacuated, including the entire city of Calistoga. Much of Santa Rosa is in rubble. The official death toll currently stands at 23, and authorities expect that to rise "significantly" when they are able to go into areas that are currently quite literally too hot to enter.

Two days ago, the smoke from those fires briefly reached my home in Oregon, 400 miles to the north, driving air pollution counts into the "unhealthy for sensitive groups" range for (more…)


September 5, 2017

Tags: wildfire, climate change, science methodology, objective truth, smoke, Oregon

As of last night, there were 1,194 wildfires burning in the United States, almost all of them in the West. Most of them are in the five states that form the western and northern border of the West: California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Montana. Yosemite National Park is burning. Glacier National Park is burning. Crater Lake National Park is burning. The Columbia Gorge is burning. The Columbia Gorge fire was caused by some idiots playing with fireworks, but almost all the rest have been caused by lightning. Record heat and lack of rain have turned the western forests into a tinderbox. Thunderstorms have intensified in recent years. We are currently living with the result.

More than 100 of those 1,194 wildfires are within 80 miles of my home (more…)

Take One Consideration With Another

August 19, 2017

Tags: Gilbert & Sullivan, Steve Bannon, evil, Donald Trump, Quakers

When a felon's not engaged in his employment,
Or maturing his felonious little plans,
His capacity for innocent enjoyment
Is just as great as any honest man's.

When the coster's finished jumping on his mother,
How he loves to lie a-basking in the sun;
Ah, take one consideration with another,
A policeman's lot is not a happy one.

-- W. S. Gilbert
The Pirates of Penzance

So Steve Bannon is out of the White House. I should be cheering. After all, I've wanted him out from the moment he walked in. The choice of a major alt.right guru like Bannon as his chief strategist was among the first indications from Donald Trump that he had no intention (more…)

Love and Diarrhea

August 13, 2017

Tags: love, diarrhea, cats, George Fox, Quakers, miracles, hate

We have been dealing with a sick cat. Rosie, our Siamese-tortoiseshell mix, has been suffering from episodic diarrhea and vomiting for the last two weeks. All will be well for several days, and then she will go through eight to twelve hours of shooting from both ends. Usually in one of the carpeted areas of the house. Usually coming on too quickly for her to get to a litter box.

OK. We plan to take her to the vet tomorrow morning. But first, this story.

Saturday was one of her bad days. The messes on the carpet began appearing (more…)

I Always Think there's a Band

July 6, 2017

Tags: Music Man, con, bamboozle, Trump, McConnell, Ryan, love, health insurance, castles in the air

Toward the end of the fabulous 1962 motion picture production of Meredith Willson's The Music Man, there's a line - almost a throwaway line - that brilliantly sums up the secret behind every successful con. It comes as Professor Harold Hill, the flim-flam man who's just about wrapped up one more town-load of (more…)