Saturday, March 31, 2012

Gods of the Copybook Headings

“You have only always to do what is right. It will become easier by practice, and you enjoy in the midst of your trials the pleasure of an approving conscience.” ~ Robert E. Lee (1807-1870)
"Always do right. That will gratify some people and astonish the rest." -- Mark Twain
And Kipling's poem:

AS I PASS through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place,
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "Stick to the Devil you know."

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "The Wages of Sin is Death."

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.

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!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


in the South is pretty spectacular. We just made a great loop through Louisiana to Mississippi to Arkansas and then back home. My wife, devotee of natural beauty, went to Garvan Gardens in Hot Springs when we stopped off there. As our ostensible aim was to see the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn, I stayed in the room and studied the scriptures, called by some The Daily Racing Form, hoping to divine the intentions of the gods of the track. We were both rewarded, she with an aesthetic experience of the first order, I with some good tickets on a round-robin parlay. She took pictures.

In Mississippi, the dogwoods and wisteria and such were all over abloom. It was a fine trip.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Maybe she thought crack meant something else

Headline from world's worst newspaper:

Woman arrested for allegedly hiding crack cocaine in buttock area
She may have thought that the name of the drug was an instruction for application. The copy editor who wrote the headline was having a little fun with a routine drug arrest.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


A quickie I couldn't resist.

I am just fascinated and amazed by border collies. One of my favorite stories ever was one I wrote about a border collie field trial in Elgin, outside of Austin. The funny thing about this vid is the dog herding the flock of men in just the way that it would herd a flock of sheep. The narrative mimics a popular Brit TV show, called something like 'A Man and His Dog,' that features working dogs in competition.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Road trip

We're off on our big spring trip. We took off Monday morning and drove to Lafayette, La. Every time I go to Lafayette I ask myself why I never lived there. I lived in places I couldn't stomach but did anyhow, so why not a place I really like? The problem is life is both too long and not long enough such that I'm almost certainly not going to get a degree in geology or live in Lafayette, both interesting prospects. Just rambling here. As my mama said not long before she died, 'The trouble is we live too damn long.'
We are in D'Iberville, Miss., having spent yesterday afternoon hacking around Ocean Springs, Miss., which town I recommend. Maybe 1970 I was working in Chicago and the Tribune Sunday roto mag ran a piece on an artist named Walter Anderson who lived on the Gulf Coast. He was such an intriguing character and his art so appealing that I swore someday I'd go see it. Forty-odd years later I made it and will testify that Walter Anderson's art is wonderful. I did something very similar with Frncisco Goya's art. Fell in love with it in my late teens and made it to the Prado at age 60. Today: On to Vicksburg. Mamaw's chasing ancestors and I just read a book about Grant's western campaigns, so there's something for everybody.

This is likely raggedy post, given it happened on a lobby computer.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Which way does your compass point?

Here's an entertaining little test of your political leanings. It's on two axes, one for economic left/right, one for social libertarian/authoritarian.
Try it at and see what you get. My leftish friends think I'm a reactionary and my right friends think I'm a communist. They may all be kinda right, as I fall very close to the 0-0 of a perfect moderate. I am –3.50 on the left/right axis, which makes me a little bit to the left, and –1.54 on the libertarian/authoritarian axis, which makes me just a tad libertarian. Try it and see what you are. I fall in the southwest [corrected, Sugar. Thx.] quadrant.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Leave your kid

with Mamaw Mad-dog from **Adrift, and you're likely to come home to a kid with purple fingernails.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Solar storms

According to the public prints, cosmic disruption is afoot, if we can believe the story,and I think we can. The Roomba just ran amok in the livingroom, making a silly humming sound and then setting forth on a quest of its own, determined only by the desires of a Roomba's heart. I pulled plug and smacked the off button to silence it. Then the TV started talking in a quavery voice. Is the cosmos making war on me? Who can know? It often feels like it. This could be interesting.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Feeling whiny about weather?

Or first mosquito hatch or whatever vagary of nature offends just now?
Take a peek at these little half-minute vids of an avalanche in Alaska. That'll scare the hell outta you. Reminding us to be fearful of the hurricane season … been a long time around here since we got good and scared by weather.