Words are Magic. Writers are Wizards

Two Recent Events Remind of the Power and Universality of Great Writing

The title from this blog post comes from an anonymous source. Whoever first said these words has my undying gratitude. Truer words have rarely been spoken– or written. This phrase runs through my mind often. Partly as confirmation of a known truth, partly as a challenge to write better.

Two recent experiences underline this truism for me. I am thinking you can relate to both.

A Lesson Close to Home

The first is more local and personal. The community I live in has a small gathering once a month called Writers Read.

Racism, White Nationalism, & Guns – We Know Where We Are.


A Lot of Wise and Angry Words Have Flowed in Recent Days. They are Right.


You know those old movie scenes? The ones where you see a terrible crash coming in slow motion. Welcome to America, today. Racism and gun violence are not exactly new burdens for us as a country. But we have never, I would posit, been at a place like we find ourselves now.

Much of what follows is my attempt to cite some of the best I have seen written in recent days. I am glad to yield space to others who have spoken well for us all.

Better Angels Brings An Interesting Challenge: Can We Talk?


A Group Dedicated to the Proposition That We Should Actually Listen to Each Other

Are You Talking to Me? 

Last weekend I put in half a day or so with a group called Better Angels. This is a national group, although thin in many areas. The program I attended last Saturday was their first in the Western portion of my state.

Before I go any further, note that I will put a link to their website at the end of this post. You can see for yourself who they are and what they aspire to achieve.

Music Hath Charms to Soothe the Savage Beast


Music Is Surely One of The Most Unique and Ubiquitous Inventions of Our Species

The title of this blog post comes from the English playwright William Congreve. It is from Act I of his play “The Mourning Bride,” published in 1697. What was true then is no less true today. Indeed, it has always been so.

Different Music, Same Responses

I experienced a couple of really interesting reminders of this in recent weeks. A couple of weeks ago, I invested a week with the Chautauqua Institute in upstate New York. Part of the program there is a large dose of music.

The Power and Peril of People in the Streets

Recent Events Remind Us of History’s Lessons


There is a line in a Mel Brooks movie wherein someone comes in to alert the king, “The peasants are revolting.” To which the king, completely misunderstanding the warning, says “They certainly are.”

Well, the peasants are revolting around the world of late, and “kings” must take note. This is how the Arab Spring started. That movement did not end well, but leaders were toppled.

You may have noticed of late that people are protesting. They often times do so in staggering numbers,

“I Think You are Great, But That is a Really Dumb Idea”

We All Need Someone Who Can Regularly Tell Us Why We Might Be Wrong

As I have watched the Trump Show these last few days (the photo session with the Pakistan Prime Minister was amazing. I kept checking the TV to see if I had stumbled onto Saturday Night Live), and the Mueller hearings on Wednesday, I was reminded of an old truth that is as powerful today as ever.

If Everyone Agrees with You All the Time, You Need a New Circle of Advisors

Any time a leader surrounds himself or herself with Yes Men,

Random Observations on the World at Large

  1. The Last Few Days Give One Pause to Ask: “Really?”


Almost any week seems surreal these days, especially in the world of politics, but recent days seem even more so.

A Few Examples to Ponder

  • What possible goal does Iran achieve in seizing a British ship? We get it they are not happy about their ship being seized in Gibraltar, but their actions of late seem designed to play into Trump’s hands. They are busily alienating those in the West most interested in salvaging the nuclear deal and all that could flow from that foundation.

What Do Your Small Preferences Say About Your Large Traits?

“Mustard or Ketchup?” This May be a Bigger Question Than You Thought

Personal Peculiarities

I have been developing a theory of human behavior and I am curious as to what you think. My theory is based on zero scientific process or any compelling logic, but it feels right to me.

Ever since I can remember, even as a very young child, I have preferred mustard over ketchup. Tart over sweet; savory over mild. I have always preferred ice cream with nuts or fruit in it rather than artificial colors or flavors. My preference is for odd numbers,

Reframing the 4th of July


A Brief Reflection on A Better Way to Think about the 4th

Every July 4 we have a replay of the same opposing dramas. Some of us celebrate everything American. Others find it a time of anger and frustration over how we fall short as a nation.

I would like to suggest that those two groups might have more in common than they realize.

A lot of us follow what could be considered a third choice, and in this choice, I think we have the makings of greater national unity.

What Else Could Possibly Be Said About Those Debates?


Well, a few things of interest, actually.

Looking for Meaning in Every Line

Pretty well everyone has weighed in on the first round of Democratic presidential debates. Sometimes, the analysis felt like the old days of Soviet watching. Remember how analysts would pour over photos of Kremlin officials on top of Lenin’s tomb? They were trying to figure out who was in and who was out, based on where they stood in the review stand. Sometimes it got downright silly.

So, too, on these debates. Some important stuff happened, but it is possible to read too much into these.