The Second World War

~ Lee Sandlin

“Where’s the pull-quote?” I don’t know how to choose one.

“What’s the take-away?” I don’t know how this could be made more succinct.

“Why should I read it?” I have no idea how to place the thing which is “The Second World War” into context. (…nor into the context of my life, and certainly not into the context of your life.)

Obviously, I don’t remember the second world war.

Obviously, I don’t understand the second world war.

But I do know that this shook me to my core. This brought a tear to my eye. I read it twice — the first time in one sitting; straight through. Somehow, it seems to grab at all the frayed, loose ends of all the things I know about the War and– well, just grabbed them all into one place.

Waking up

Sometimes when my wife and I have conversations in public, it looks like the scene from the movie Dogma where Loki and Bartleby walk through the airport talking about their previous exploits as angels. We often look around at all the sleeping people in the world, noting that they barely register as conscious beings. They go through their lives working meaningless jobs, enduring unfulfilling relationships, and drugging themselves to avoid facing their unfaceable fears. Their conversations are nothing but trivialities in the grand scheme of things.

~ Steve Pavlina

There is a fine line between condescendent and enlightened. The first requisite for enlightenment is awareness of the line, and another is having the courage to get precariously close to it.

An action appearing in words

The grandeur of the Declaration of Independence… consists… in its being the perfect way of an action to appear in words. And since we deal here with the written and not with the spoken word, we are confronted by one of the rare moments when the power of action is great enough to erect its own monument.

~ Hannah Arendt

The foundations of the American democracy are unique, regardless wether you think it is a “good” or “bad” construction. If you would like to take your knowledge of it to the next level, I highly recommend:


You have a million things to do an not enough time to do it all? Not a big deal: pick the things you can do, and get to work. That’s all you can do anyway, so it’s not worth adding some stress to the already difficult situation. Have a huge task to do that is going to be very difficult? No big deal. Just take the first step. Just get moving. You’ll deal with the difficulty.

~ Leo Babauta

Frenetic activity. Fits of rage. Tidal waves of guilt. Mountains of frustration. Spasms of activity. Rivers of self-doubt. Occasional moments of calm. Thank you Leo!

Sometimes good photos take themselves

Often, when driving to and fro’ in the ‘ol Jeep — but particularly on loooooong road trips — I encounter spectacular views. I’ve gotten good at grabbing the phone, and just tripping the shutter without looking at the phone… days later, I have 157 blurry photos… and this one. Westbound about to cross the Hudson River in upstate New York on a chilly Sunday evening after a Winter Retreat. See? One photo; All the memories too.

My high horse

The point of this preparation is not to write off everyone in advance. It’s that, maybe, because you’ve prepared for it, you’ll be able to act with patience, forgiveness, and understanding.

~ Ryan Holiday

Recently, someone told me — literally wrote the words, “Why don’t you get down off your high horse and get a sense of humor?”

A bit of context: They had posted a large comment, and an image which I judged to be inappropriate and which I judged added nothing to the conversation at hand. I deleted the image. Below their comment, I added, “Commentary such as this are most welcome; inappropriate, rape-y GIFs are not.” They followed with the high-horse snark, and then a longish stream of discussion by them and others broke out wherein I added nothing further to the episode. Let’s set aside the question of wether my decision to delete the image was warranted or approved by the community after-the-fact.

I found myself thinking about the difference in our behavior…

…and the next morning, I read this quote. (Wow! What an instance of confirmation bias!)

…and that led me to this conclusion:

I have intentionally climbed up onto this high horse. I am intentionally doing my best to demonstrate through my behavior that I hold myself to a high standard.

A fight for survival! An RSS revival!

While millions of people may be happy getting their news from Facebook or an aggregator like Apple News (which I also use, occasionally, for more mainstream headlines), the resiliency of RSS makes me happy. There was a time when I thought all my news could come from social feeds and timelines; today, I’m more comfortable knowing that I – not a questionable and morally corrupt algorithm – fully control hundreds of sources I read each day.

~ Federico Viticci

Hear! Hear!

Ok, but how do you use this? The SUPER easy way is to go to . There you can tell it what sites you want to follow, and FeedBin will “consume” the RSS feeds. It dove-tails them together into a linear stream of short snippettes and excerpts. You skim along only seeing things from sites you wanted to follow. Some site annoys you? …just remove that feed.

See something you like? …click through and you’re taking to the original item on the actual site. THIS is why all sites provide RSS feeds — if a site doesn’t, it’s not a real web site. Huge sites (like BBC) provide various feeds you can choose from… just international news for example.

…and yes, this blog has an RSS feed. In fact, all WordPress sites have an RSS feed AUTOMATICALLY. So that’s like a third of the internet right there.

Take a few hours to figure this out — you can thank me later.

¿ What happens if FeedBin goes away ? Same thing as when the RSS aggregator before it went away, a replacement appeared. Also, you can install a dedicated program on your own computer than can follow and present the feeds — us real geeks, we use an RSS aggregator combined with dedicated reader apps, but now I’m just showing off.

Non sequitur to Geography geekiness

Ironic, as it is actually Mackenzie who holds the distinction of leading the first recorded crossing of North America, not Lewis and Clark. In 1793, Mackenzie made a second attempt to cross the continent, over an extremely rugged section of modern-day British Columbia. He reached the Pacific north of Vancouver, and in so doing, beat Lewis and Clark by a dozen years. Mackenzie’s published memoir of the trip inspired Thomas Jefferson to send Lewis and Clark at all, and they carried a copy of the best-selling book in their canoe.

~ Brian Castner

If you are not following Atlas Obscura you are seriously missing out. I had an idea much like it, about 20 years ago and I never followed through. Meanwhile they have done it WAY better than I think I could have. Every day they post a couple of obscure things about our world.

This particular item is SOOOOO MUCH FUN! I thought (ie, I was told, in primary school and high school) that Lewis & Clark were these great adventurers who set out across the …. NOT. They took a copy of this other guy’s book with them.

Meanwhile, Internet for the win! As you read the story — seriously. go! — it talks about a “bend in the river” where they misjudged how much it was redirecting them. (Complicated by no maps, bad magnetic north issues in that area, etc) And TODAY you can go to this Google map link and you can see it’s like… “Yay! We’re going west on this river and we’re going to reach the Pacific ocean by going below Alaska…” *sad trombone* and the river makes this VICIOUS hard-right turn and “booooo! We’re going to the Beaufort Sea in the Arctic Ocean….”

Mackenzie River


So basically all of these systems are intimately interconnected, and probably before this is done with researchers will find five more systems intimately interconnected with all of these. It might be that inflammation is the master system which causes a cascade of events in all of the others. It might be that one of the others is the master system. It might be that depression is a collection of multiple different diseases, and some are caused by one thing and others by another. It might be that looking for a “master system” is silly and that the true mathematical relationship between all of these things is such a chaotic process that all you can say is that they all stumbled together into the wrong attractor point and things deteriorated from there.

~ Scott Alexander

This is one of those stories where science has been carefully teasing something apart for many years, only to find out, in the end, that they had it all wrong along the way.


But — via my confirmation bias — this jumps out as another place where being “certain” about things turns out to be — wait, no — I’m not certain. Dammit. Oh well, it’s just turtles all the way down.