15 September 2010

Genuine Pleasure in Reconnecting With an Old Friend or How The Laffer Curve is My New Marvel; And Other Scribbles

The Reasonable Curmudgeon

I ran across the blog of an old friend the other day: http://www.thereasonablecurmudgeon.blogspot.com/

This "Reasonable Curmudgeon" is a widely educated guy with all sorts of life experiences, and he's also a hell of a writer. Please note his 20 July 2010 discussion of the Laffer Curve.

It is indeed a pleasure to reconnect with The Reasonable Curmudgeon. He, too, has taken the body punches of life, which enables him to say things with experience and authority. Who are you going to listen to about the storms which are sure to come into your life? Someone who has never gone out in the rain?

And so, I happily add The Reasonable Curmudgeon’s blog to the links on the right for your frequent reading pleasure.

Perhaps on an effort another day I’ll chat about the Laffer curve.

Note: Yes, I know that the titles to my posts are a tad complicated, a touch obscure, and just a teensy-weensy bit enigmatic. I like double titles, having first come to appreciate them in the Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoons. I like Rocky & Bullwinkle. They make considerably more sense than anyone in the marble whorehouse on Jenkins Hill. Ever since a discussion years and years ago with George Byers, a wonderful guy who still teaches English at Fairmont State, I’ve always had lots of harmless fun with titles. (George’s comment to me at the time, and I was about 19, was "Dummy, the title IS part of the composition!" I think we were talking about Charles Lamb at the time.)

Iron Stairs, Glass Floors and Fifty Years

think I’ve talked before about the public library in Parkersburg West Virginia, the town I lived in when I was growing up. This was the "Carnegie Library," part of the legacy to America of steel magnate Andrew Carnegie.

I can’t tell you when it was built, but I do know that it was an old building. The first floor ceilings were high and ornate moulded plaster. When I walked in, there was an enormous reading room on the right, behind doors which were never closed. All manner of periodicals including the latest out-of-town papers were organized and neatly laid out and there were always several people (including a good many older people) there in the reading room.

The stacks, though - that’s where the magic was. The library had four floors of stacks in the back. They were connected by spiral staircases, all narrow and wrought iron. The floors were iron frames and the flooring consisted of large glass blocks so that on the top floor, you could see wavy images of dark oak bookshelves immediately below you and ever more blurry things two more floors below that. You were dancing in the air, you were a part of the computer before the computer was really a part of our lives or anybody ever thought of the Tron movie. You moved about and picked through bits of memory and could take bits and absorb absorb them and share them and savor them, and remember these experiences now well on to 50 years later.

The time came when the library moved to different quarters, so the building was empty. At that point, a retired engineer, Joe Sakach, opened "Trans-Allegheny books," a huge and delightful bookstore in the old library. They did a good mail-order business but as Waldenbooks and Cole’s and Barnes & Noble and Amazon and Walmart and Oprah made first buying books and then picking out books cheaper and easier for the microwave generation, Trans-Allegheny slowed along with the other independents. Mr. Sakach died, and the executors have been trying to find someone to reanimate the bookstore, with no takers.

I almost said that I have never complained about progress, but that would be a bold faced lie. I have bitched, moaned and complained about progress every 10 minutes approximately since birth. And yet progress comes and I certainly use new technology even if I am clumsy and grumpy about doing so. You might note that the publication of these scribblings is electronic rather than from a mechanical press and distributed in halfpenny editions. But the sights and smells in the world of that library are still a part of me.

"Litter cleanup ahead"

On one of our two-lane roads last weekend, I was buzzing along just "blowing the stink off." (That’s the phrase my grandfather used for taking a nice fast ride with the windows open to enjoy the day in the sun and the breeze and the speed and the feel of the road.) I came across one of those temporary orange diamond warning signs with the legend "Litter cleanup ahead." No problem, you just back off and wave to your friends and neighbors as you ease by them while they are picking the detritus from the lap of Mother West Virginia.

And for every item that these friends grasp and put in a plastic sack, there is a thoughtless piggish bastard who put it there. There is someone who is too lazy and too stupid and to irresponsible to pick up after themselves. I even wonder if these folks are potty trained.

Performance Art

I have only a passing familiarity with American sign language (ASL). Mostly, that is through having deaf clients for whom we have used interpreters. At the clients of left, I’ve talked with the interpreters about the nature of ASL, its relationship to Indian trade language (tenuous), its syntax (unique, and not a word for word English translation) and so forth.

The only fellow I see who is fluent in ASL is Parson Jim Norton, whose parents were deaf and who grew up using ASL as one of his first languages. At times, 'round Central Christian Church, Jim will arise before a hymn or some poeticI him or some poetic passage of Scripture and interpret it in ASL. He did so couple of Sundays ago and I was struck not so much with the capacity of ASL to communicate ideas as with its order and fluidity as performance art. Perhaps it is dance with the arms. I confess that I have never understood or appreciated dance as an art form (even though dancers obviously are exceedingly athletic). Watching Jim opened a window for me a little wider, and reminded me that I have way more to learn than I already know.

Thought for the day:

If you do not like the books I read, don’t read them.

Additional thought for the day:

. . . and I'm not interested in your opinion about those books.

Pippa passes, as always.



Anonymous said...

always enjoy your blog posts -- one of these days will have time to really respond

The Reasonable Curmudgeon said...

Thanks for the kind word, my friend. I think that between the two of us we might just be able to shine some light into the current fog of internet and main stream media. I least I hope so.

The Reasonable Curmudgeon