Eleven Months Ago Today

Sgt. Blogger taught the band to play.

Kinda taught me anyway.

Yeah, eleven months since I started playing with this blog. Close to two hundred posts. Never thought I’d manage that. Not much by the standards of the ‘sphere, but time for me to take a break. Don’t know how long. Long, maybe.

Why?

Well, how often in life do you find yourself reading two books with the same title at the same time? Like this one and this one. If you ever do, you gotta figger there’s a reason or two. Truth is: if I had my life to live over, I think I’d have gone to the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, someplace like that. Or tried to. You know, if I could ever have gotten admitted, what with my artistically incorrect politics and all. Not to mention poverty of talent.

Whatever talent is.

But we don’t get do-overs and we don’t get more time than we get. Let me know if you hear different. And all education being self-education — I forget who said that, may have been Søren Kierkegaard, may have been Louis L’Amour– it’s time for me to bear down a little.

Anyway, I always liked this guy when he was blogging, and thought he did his fair share in fighting the long defeat. And I couldn’t compose a sign-off better than his. Like he said, you never know about the future… but right now, I’m outta here.

Gone paintin’.

Mums the Word

I refer –I regret to report– to all further developments in the preparation and execution of the Hummus Summit. The best diplomacy taking place behind the scenes, a veil of secrecy has perforce descended over the HummSumm. I can tell you –and I just thought this up– there will be no preconditions… well, beyond the obvious requirement that everyone, excepting those with a medically certified allergic condition, must consume  –even if only in small symbolic quantities– hummus.

The emphasis of the entire cuisine will be, as you might expect, middle eastern. However, in light of developing public health concerns, no kebabs of any kind will be served.

As for the outcome of the HummSumm, I remain –though I cannot reveal all of my reasons– optimistic. Basically I just think anything with Charlize Theron in it will probably turn out okay. (Even that bummer post-apocalyptic eat-or-be-eaten movie that’s coming up this Thanksgiving.)

Well, wish us well. Probably wouldn’t hurt –just for luck– to eat a little hummus yourself.

Might wanna –in the spirit of The Road– hold off on the kebabs.

Not Remember Him?

Eric Hoffer? I’ll never forget him. An old hero of mine. Truly.

Thanks NeoEx for reminding us.

Other nations when victorious on the battlefield dictate peace terms. But when Israel is victorious, it must sue for peace. Everyone expects the Jews to be the only real Christians in this world. Other nations, when they are defeated, survive and recover but should Israel be defeated it would be destroyed.

Hoffer wrote that forty-odd years ago. Plus de changement de choses… eh?

That specific paragraph, incidentally, kinda reminds me of something from Christopher Buckley’s book on his parents. Where, at a friend’s memorial service, his father said he’d waited his whole life to meet the perfect Christian and, when he did, the person turned out to be a non-observant Jew. I’m sure there are many, many Moslems –practicing their faith at various levels– of which the same may potentially be said. It’s past time for all of them to step up.

Anyway –back to Eric Hoffer– do yourself a favor; read the whole thing. Then maybe anything else by the guy that you can get your hands on.

Instead of a lot of dumb blogs. Including this one… which, sometime soon — cat-exits-bag alert– is going bye-bye anyway.

Also –concerning the admonition to not jump away from conclusions (a post or two ago) and its corollary: nothing is what it seems unless it actually isthis article makes an important point. A minor point these days, maybe, but still kinda crucial, one category not excluding the other.

HummSumm Update

Sure, some summit meetings can turn out like this, where you…

… convene the stakeholders, let them vent about the problem, give a shout-out to those already engaged in efforts to address the problem, get at least one member of the “establishment” that caused the trauma to attend and be contrite, define a vague action plan, stress the need for the whole community to get actively involve, break into small groups to discuss the issues, put people’s thoughts on flip chart paper, have the break-out groups’ scribes report back to the larger group, be sure everyone signs their names and contact information on a clipboard, and then schedule a few interviews with the local media to exaggerate the outcomes of the event

But –trust me– the Hummus Summit will be of a higher order.

I mean, I won’t deny kinda lookin’ forward to my break-out session with Charlize Theron and Carrie Underwood, gettin’ their contact information and all. But for one thing, we aren’t gonna have clipboards. Not with some of the other folks we got comin’. The Mamouds, Bibi, Hillary, Sarah, Andrew Sullivan, like that.

You ever been hit with a clipboard?

Let me tell ya, those things can leave a crease.

Kangaroos

Can they jump backward?

That’s one of the questions that occurred to me while I continue to hold fire (so to speak) on the Ft. Hood mess…  and, of course, continue to fine tune the architecture of the Hummus Summit. It’s all part of my effort to cultivate a little more patience than comes naturally to me and –following the lead of some of our most leaderly leaders— to not “jump to conclusions.”

Jumping, that’s where the kangaroos come in.

One of the things that I was actually able to observe during my conclusion-jumping abstinence–and I’m sure I’m not the first to notice the phenomenon– was the severe structural imbalance built into our thinking by that very cliché. We’re always warned about jumping to conclusions. But nobody ever warns you about jumping away from conclusions. And aren’t we seeing quite a bit of exactly that? Jumping away from even the most obvious of conclusions. I don’t think I even need to provide examples, do I?

It’s as if some folks, in fact some of our best and brightest, are on this relentless treadmill. And very often –though, admittedly, not in every case– it’s powered by information that’s virtually irrefutable and logic that’s diamond-hard. Not to mention the experience of centuries. And yet, as they’re conveyed onward and especially as they reach the inevitable destination, they dip into this astonishing repertoire of backward intellectual leaps and retrograde psychological bounds. It’s creative and amazing and the whole performance receives very high scores from all the judges (8.8, 9.2, 9.0 and, from the Washington Post, a perfect 10!).

Now, to some extent or another, all of us are governed in our thinking by cliché. It’s unavoidable really. And that’s why, regarding the case of  the ubiquitous jumping to conclusions, I think we need a countervailing cliché. Obviously, the inverse idea exists –of following a series of steps to its logical conclusion and of not permitting casuistry to subvert common sense. I just don’t think there’s a cliché of sufficient weight to balance the pejorative power of jumping to conclusions.

There is, I realize, the all-purpose pull your head out of your… well, you know. But –aside from the barriers it faces in polite company, family newspapers, and Presidential press conferences– that expression doesn’t address the problem I’m talking about… at least with enough specificity to satisfy me.

Maybe there’s something out there, and I’m just too dumb to think of it, huh?

Guess Who…

… is coming for hummus.

And you can just keep guessing because, frankly, I’m not all that sure myself. Just started to put together the short list for the Hummus Summit (see previous post). So far:

Gordan Ramsay
Tony Blair
Benjamin Netanyahu
Charlize Theron
Mamoud Ahmadinejad
Mahmoud Abbas
Sarah Palin
Hosni Mubarek
Hillary Clinton
Charles Krauthammer
Andrew Sullivan
Melanie Philips
Camille Paglia
Joe R. Lansdale
Liz Cheney
Michelle Obama
Robert Ferrigno
David Petreus
Benedict XVI
Adam Sandler
Jonah Goldberg
Susilo Bohmbang Yudhoyono
Carrie Underwood
Carrie Prejean
Bruce Springsteen
Ayan Hirsi Ali
Phyllis Chesler
Barbara Kingsolver
Naomi Klein
Natalie Portman
Kareem Abdul Jabar
Osama Bin Laden
Bono
Oprah
Dennis Miller
Dennis Genpo Merzel
Dennis Prager
Cesar Milan
Bill Gates
Steve Jobs
George R. R. Martin
James Hillman

Well, naturally this is all very provisional. I’m not sure I’ve got the ideological or gender balance I need. Or even if  I’ve got all the names spelled right.

And, face it, probably half these people won’t even RSVP, let alone show up.

Heck, you’ve given summits.

You know how that goes.

Stockholm Lock

Hummus, you know that mashed-up garbanzo goo… well, mostly I can take it or leave it. If it’s there in the fridge, sure, I’ll plunge in with a Dorito or two. But Mrs. Stagger is big fan. I mean huge. Not that she’s huge… no, no, no. I just mean she’s  always buying little tubs of hummus. Plain hummus, garlic hummus, olive hummus, all kinds. She even whips the stuff up in her own mighty food processor. It’s almost a weekly thing.

Anyway, remember how we had a Beer Summit? Well, just wanted to let you know that I’m busy arranging a Hummus Summit to solve this crisis.

And, while –as with the manufacture of hummus itself– I’m not exactly sure what-all goes into nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize, it’s probably not too early to send my name in.

Way I see it: I pull this off, I’m a lock.