Saturday, February 15, 2020

Some thoughtful words

I just felt like gathering these in one place, and gathering them for posterity.

"Declaration of Conscience" (excerpts)
U.S. Senator Margaret Chase Smith, June 1, 1950

"I would like to speak briefly and simply about a serious national condition. It is a national feeling of fear and frustration that could result in national suicide and the end of everything that we Americans hold dear. It is a condition that comes from the lack of effective leadership in either the Legislative Branch or the Executive Branch of our Government.

"That leadership is so lacking that serious and responsible proposals are being made that national advisory commissions be appointed to provide such critically needed leadership.

"I speak as briefly as possible because too much harm has already been done with irresponsible words of bitterness and selfish political opportunism. I speak as briefly as possible because the issue is too great to be obscured by eloquence. I speak simply and briefly in the hope that my words will be taken to heart.

"I speak as a Republican. I speak as a woman. I speak as a United States Senator. I speak as an American.

"The United States Senate has long enjoyed worldwide respect as the greatest deliberative body in the world. But recently that deliberative character has too often been debased to the level of a forum of hate and character assassination sheltered by the shield of congressional immunity. ...

"Those of us who shout the loudest about Americanism in making character assassinations are all too frequently those who, by our own words and acts, ignore some of the basic principles of Americanism:

  • "The right to criticize;
  • "The right to hold unpopular beliefs;
  • "The right to protest;
  • "The right of independent thought.

"The exercise of these rights should not cost one single American citizen his reputation or his right to a livelihood nor should he be in danger of losing his reputation or livelihood merely because he happens to know someone who holds unpopular beliefs. Who of us doesn’t? Otherwise none of us could call our souls our own. Otherwise thought control would have set in."

"Think Little" (excerpts)
Wendell Berry, 1969

"But the environmental crisis rises closer to home. Every time we draw a breath, every time we drink a glass of water, every time we eat a bite of food we are suffering from it. And more important, every time we indulge in, or depend on, the wastefulness of our economy — and our economy’s first principle is waste — we are causing the crisis. Nearly every one of us, nearly every day of his life, is contributing directly to the ruin of this planet. A protest meeting on the issue of environmental abuse is not a convocation of accusers, it is a convocation of the guilty. That realization ought to clear the smog of self-righteousness that has almost conventionally hovered over these occasions, and let us see the work that is to be done. In this crisis it is certain that every one of us has a public responsibility. We must not cease to bother the government and the other institutions to see that they never become comfortable with easy promises. ...

"What we are up against in this country, in any attempt to invoke private responsibility, is that we have nearly destroyed private life. Our people have given up their independence in return for the cheap seductions and the shoddy merchandise of so-called 'affluence.' We have delegated all our vital functions and responsibilities to salesmen and agents and bureaus and experts of all sorts. We cannot feed or clothe ourselves, or entertain ourselves, or communicate with each other, or be charitable or neighborly or loving, or even respect ourselves, without recourse to a merchant or a corporation or a public-service organization or an agency of the government or a style-setter or an expert. Most of us cannot think of dissenting from the opinions or the actions of one organization without first forming a new organization. Individualism is going around these days in uniform, handing out the party line on individualism. Dissenters want to publish their personal opinions over a thousand signatures. ..."

"For most of the history of this country our motto, implied or spoken, has been Think Big. I have come to believe that a better motto, and an essential one now, is Think Little. That implies the necessary change of thinking and feeling, and suggests the necessary work. Thinking Big has led us to the two biggest and cheapest political dodges of our time: plan-making and law-making. ...

"If you are concerned about the proliferation of trash, then by all means start an organization in your community to do something about it. But before — and while you organize, pick up some cans and bottles yourself. That way, at least, you will assure yourself and others that you mean what you say. If you are concerned about air pollution, help push for government controls, but drive your car less, use less fuel in your home. If you are worried about the damming of wilderness rivers, join the Sierra Club, write to the government, but turn off the lights you’re not using, don’t install an air conditioner, don’t be a sucker for electrical gadgets, don’t waste water. In other words, if you are fearful of the destruction of the environment, then learn to quit being an environmental parasite."
Academy Award acceptance speech
Joaquin Phoenix, February 9, 2020

"I’m full of so much gratitude now. I do not feel elevated above any of my fellow nominees or anyone in this room, because we share the same love — that’s the love of film. And this form of expression has given me the most extraordinary life. I don’t know where I’d be without it.

"But I think the greatest gift that it’s given me, and many people in [this industry] is the opportunity to use our voice for the voiceless. I’ve been thinking about some of the distressing issues that we’ve been facing collectively.

"I think at times we feel or are made to feel that we champion different causes. But for me, I see commonality. I think, whether we’re talking about gender inequality or racism or queer rights or indigenous rights or animal rights, we’re talking about the fight against injustice.

"We’re talking about the fight against the belief that one nation, one people, one race, one gender, one species, has the right to dominate, use and control another with impunity.

"I think we’ve become very disconnected from the natural world. Many of us are guilty of an egocentric world view, and we believe that we’re the centre of the universe. We go into the natural world and we plunder it for its resources. We feel entitled to artificially inseminate a cow and steal her baby, even though her cries of anguish are unmistakeable. Then we take her milk that’s intended for her calf and we put it in our coffee and our cereal.

"We fear the idea of personal change, because we think we need to sacrifice something; to give something up. But human beings at our best are so creative and inventive, and we can create, develop and implement systems of change that are beneficial to all sentient beings and the environment.

"I have been a scoundrel all my life, I’ve been selfish. I’ve been cruel at times, hard to work with, and I’m grateful that so many of you in this room have given me a second chance. I think that’s when we’re at our best: when we support each other. Not when we cancel each other out for our past mistakes, but when we help each other to grow. When we educate each other; when we guide each other to redemption.

"When he was 17, my brother [River] wrote this lyric. He said: 'run to the rescue with love and peace will follow.'"
"The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark" (excerpt)
Carl Sagan, 1995

"I have a foreboding of an America in my children's or grandchildren's time — when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what's true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness."

"Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space" (excerpt)
Carl Sagan, 1994

"Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every 'superstar,' every 'supreme leader,' every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there — on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam."

Vintage postcard: "Saw the bears"

The "Bears in Postcards" series (see Feb. 9, Jan. 29, Jan. 23) continues. This is a Dexter Press postcard published, again, by Eric J. Seaich Co. of Salt Lake City. I wrote about him on one of the previous postcards. I guess he had a knack for catching those bears approaching cars.

This one is labeled ES-534. The caption states: "Mother bear and 2 cubs begging for food along the highway — a familiar site in Yellowstone Park, Wyo."

The card was postmarked on August 22, 1962, in West Yellowstone, Montana, and mailed to an address here in York, Pennsylvania. The note is written in cursive, diagonally, on the card and it states:
"Toured Yellowstone to-day. Weather swell only one warm day so far. 50° this morning. Saw the bears.
Helen M. Knox
Lillie M. Spangler"
A "Reassessment Supplement" published in the Gazette and Daily of York on August 25, 1970, shows both of those women having property in the York City 1st Ward. Helen M. Knox on East South Street, and Lillie M. Spangler on South George Street.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

The cat bookends Mom gave me

Facebook reminded me this week that I posted this photograph there 3 years ago, on February 10, 2017.

It had the caption, "The cat bookends have been deployed, Mary Ingham Otto!"

I wanted her to know that one of her gifts had gone to excellent use.

I'm glad I posted it when I did, because she died suddenly less than three weeks later. It's crazy to think that was three years ago. It's a cliche, but in some ways it seems like it was yesterday and in other ways I feel like she's been gone for a decade. It's been a long three years.

We've also moved during that time. We no longer have that bookshelf. And I no longer have some of those books. I liked the three-volume The Book of The Thousand Nights and a Night, translated and annotated by Richard F. Burton, which was published in 1934 by Heritage Press. It had been my grandmother's. But it took up a lot of shelf space, and I knew I was never going to read it, so I sent it off to find a new Forever Home. No sense keeping books on shelves when others can enjoy them. I still have the cat bookends, of course. They are deployed in a couple different spots now, doing fine work.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Scholastic book cover: "Mystery of the Piper's Ghost"

  • Title: Mystery of the Piper's Ghost
  • Author: Zillah K. MacDonald (1885-1979)
  • Illustrator: Charles Beck
  • Publisher: Scholastic Book Services (TX 102)
  • Cover price: 50 cents
  • Year: Fourth printing, 1965.
  • Pages: 156
  • Format: Paperback
  • Provenance/destination: Pretty sure I picked this up at a used book sale. I'm always perusing the 1960s and 1970s Scholastic titles. After this post is finished, the book is headed for a Little Free Library.
  • Exclamation mark-filled back-cover blurb: "From the pool near an old mine emerged the Piper's Ghost, moaning dreadfully! Michael Cunningham, an orphaned boy, stared at the glowing creature with horns on its head, a bagpipe under its arm, and webbed feet. Who or what was this weird creature? What was it doing in the mine? The unmasking of the Piper's Ghost and a daring rescue from the blazing mine climax this story of suspense!"
  • There are some proto-Scooby Doo vibes there. Yes. There's even, coincidentally, a character named Velma.
  • First sentences: "Hi, Michael! Lend a hand!"
  • Last sentence: He was sure of that now.
  • Random sentence from middle: Cy Sullivan's Band was marching bravely forward through the dark underground passages of old Kejimakujee.
  • Kejimakujee? It's possibly an alternate spelling of Kejimkujik, a park and lake in Nova Scotia.
  • Notable names and phrases: One character is called a "mincing minikin" and there's a dog named Beelzebub. The dog's owner calls Beelzebub an "old mumbudget." The phrase "old mazards" is also used, with its usage implying that it's an insult or even a mild vulgarity. Finally, there's a talking crow named Desdemona.
  • Rating on Goodreads: 3.4 stars (out of 5)
  • Goodreads review excerpt: In 2015, "C" wrote: "There is also friendship forged with a hermit, away from whom most parents have steered their youngsters. He is so bizarre, anyone would find him enthralling, including me! A flurry of events with him and at the sinister lagoons are exciting, whether it is otherworldly or not."
  • Rating on Amazon: 3.8 stars (out of 5)
  • Amazon review excerpt: In 2011, The Grey Piper wrote: "The particular gripes I would level at this story are first, that it just seems very long, drawn-out, and a bit haphazard. Second, quite a bit covers Michael's misadventures with the older bad boys; he is involved with lobster poaching, vandalism, and theft. Some of this seems a bit intense for the target audience. The final chapters, with a bunch of the kids trapped in the burning mine, seems especially graphic. But further, Michael's own continuing participation in these shenanigans seems a bit far-fetched. How many times does the local Mountie have to come and grill you before you quit the nonsense?"
  • About the author: Her full name was Zillah Katherine MacDonald, and she was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in the late 19th century. Her Goodreads biography includes this interesting note: "Eileen's Adventures In Wordland (1920) is her first novel, a real delight for lovers of wordplay. Eileen's companion, X, leads her to encounters ranging from meeting Blighty, a word born during the first World War, to Grandmother Indo-European, who introduces Eileen to a number of her language children."

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Vintage postcard: "The Night Marauder"

Our "Bears in Postcards" series (see Jan. 29, Jan. 23) continues with this linen postcard of "The Night Marauder" ⁠— just a very good boy (or girl) looking for a snack ⁠— at Allegany State Park in New York.

Here are the vital statistics for the card: The photograph was by Ceylon Newton (a name that leads mostly to dead ends on Google). This is a Genuine Curteich-Chicago "C.T. Art-Colortone" postcard. It was published by A. Wolfmueller of Buffalo, New York, as No. 115 in its series. This is the caption on the back:
Playground of Western New York
This bear, like many others, comes out of hiding after sunset, looking for food. This one, a special tough customer, did not want to leave his overturned trash can, even after a series of flashbulbs were shot off to take this picture.
The postcard was mailed from Quaker Bridge, New York, on August 1, 1959, with a purple 3¢ liberty stamp. It was sent to the Spencer residence in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and this is the cursive note:
We arrived safely and find the park very nice. We haven't seen any bears but many racoons [sic]. We went to Niagara Falls.
See you.
The Brackbills"