no wonder you are the way you are


For some frustrating reason, my computer decided to upgrade to Windows 10 overnight. I managed to do a reset back to Windows 8.1. I’m not sure why it upgraded. I hope it wasn’t the church’s tech people deciding I should upgrade and not talk to me about it first.

I neglected to mention that when the retired English prof in my choir found out that I drink a martini most every evening, he responded “No wonder you are the way you are!”

Not sure what that means exactly but it seemed an appropriate response from this dude.

I received my copy of Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society, Revised Edition by Raymond Williams in the mail yesterday. It was a book footnoted by McChesney and Nichols in People Get Ready: The Fight Against a Jobless Economy and a Citizenless Democracy. They footnoted it in a discussion of the meaning of the word capitalism.

Williams writes about returning from WWII to Cambridge in 1945. He and another colleague noticed a “strange new world” where people seemed to be speaking a different language. This kicked off his academic career thinking about words and cultue. This book was actually started as an appendix to his main work, Culture and Society.

Williams died in 1988 according to his Wikipedia article.

He writes about thinking about the word culture. He pointed out several meanings that he was able to assign to the word: the “teashop” meaning: a kind of social superiority; the meaning about writing poems, plays, films; and a “way of life” meaning as in the Japanese culture.

What I especially liked is how he describes looking at the word in the OED: the “shock of recognition” at the complexity of layers of meaning represented there.

This is the kind of stuff I like. I am intrigued by any discussion of the resonance in words especially at this time when we hollow them out and replace them big stupid simple concepts that do not connect easily to the subtleties of being human.


Grace is the first church where people do not give me the usual choir director/organist presents. This has changed ever since the retired law professor joined the choir. She gave me a book for Christmas “from the choir.” She also hosted our recent choir party and then presented me with the box above. I think they’re kind of fun in an awful way. I’m drinking coffee from one of the cups right now.

Eileen is going to drive a friend to surgery today and then spend the evening with her.  She is still resting as I write. After resetting my computer back to Windows 8.1 I dealt with a bunch of silly emails and texts this morning. I replied to the soloist for tomorrows funeral (copying in the priests and the sons of the deceased) that we could meet at 10 AM and that she was only going to be singing 2 of the 3 songs she expected. I also emailed the Ballet department at Hope that I would be too busy to accompany classes this fall since the department secretary emailed me asking me if I was interested in certain classes. I also emailed my Mom’s cousin Pat Baker updating her on Mom’s condition. I also reached out to my own cousin Pam asking about Mom’s sister since Pat inquired about that as well. Pam immediately responded so I will have to update the rest of the family with her contact info. I also emailed my one student who is back in town from wintering in Washington DC and wants to start lessons again. 

I also did some Greek this morning. I was laying in bed earlier wondering how I got so busy again after quitting my Roman Catholic full time gig. I need to goof off much more.

Kerry Meets Egypt’s Leader, and Where Are Reporters? Corralled at the Airport – The New York Times

This pathetic description fills in the picture of a sycophant impotent press that simply takes dictation from people and governments.

U.S. Returns a Stolen Christopher Columbus Letter, but Mystery Remains – The New York Times

After my hero, Ed Friedman, used Columbus as an example of someone who took risks and looked to the future without too much thought of how he would return from the unknown lands he was seeking, I read Samuel Morrison’s excellent biography of Columbus.

Columbus is persona non grata these days in many circles. A few years back I watched a Lutheran minister try to use Friedman’s thinking with leaders only to fail miserably. I still think the history is interesting and informative despite the way Columbus looked at and repressed (murdered?) indigenous peoples.

A British Town Weighs Its Officials’ Merits, With Scales – The New York Times

this is fun. Daughter Sarah and her significant other lived in this city. When I read the article I had turned to it because the story sounded goofy but mildly interesting. then I recognized the town!

When Cultural Heritage Is Caught in the Cross Hairs – The New York Times

I hate these NYT pages that begin playing the embedded video unasked. But I lined this in because of the list of historical instances of the loss of culture due to stupidity.

Fact-Checking NPR’s Reports On Vegas ‘Violence’ : NPR Ombudsman : NPR

Fact checking but I’m still not clear how much disturbance there was.

How The Wrong Verb Meant The Texas GOP Called Most Texans Gay : The Two-Way : NPR

Of course they meant it differently but it’s fun to see people caught misusing language in such an embarrassing way.

Why There’s an Uproar Over Trying to Increase Funding for Poor Schools – The New York Times

You have to wonder how teacher’s salaries became a factor in cheating poor schools of funds.

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