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Calling All Book People!

Book people, readers, and bibliophiles, I’m curious about some of your book habits. Especially in three areas: Acquisitions, Storing, and Weeding.


Beyond the more basic ones (“I didn’t have this one,” or “It looked like it needed a good home.”), what are the qualifications a book must fulfill before you can justify spending your money on it or it taking up valuable “shelf space”? Are they different for different types of books, such as Fiction vs Non-Fiction? How discriminating are you?


Where do your books live? Bookshelves/bookcases, boxed up, stacked up? Which room(s) of the house do you keep them in? Do you have specific books (aside from cookbooks) in certain rooms?

What, if any, organization scheme do you use? Do you have a “To Read First” shelf?


This is pretty much the inverse of Acquisitions. When do you get rid of a book? And again, how discriminating are you?

Are you like the cat lady down the street who has 27 cats, but would never turn away a stray? “I’ll find a spot for you, dear.”

Or are you the cold, heartless landlord? “No rent, no room. Get out!”

I have hundreds, if not thousands, of books. About half of them are currently boxed up and stacked on a pallet. The others are about evenly spilt between shelves and stacks on the floor. I have too many books for the shelf space I have available, so weeding is pretty much a necessity for me. I take a few things into consideration.

First, do I really need this many books on this topic? I was super interested in the War Between the States (the Civil War, for the mis-educated) when I was in my teens and early 20s. Now, I really don’t need books on tactics, unit histories, etc.

Second, (this one especially applies to the boxed books) in the almost 10 years since I last saw this book, have I forgotten I ever had it? In some ways this can be like Christmas. Sometimes it’s like seeing an old friend. “Hey, so that’s where you’ve been!” Other times I paraphrasingly quote Gandalf, “I have no memory of this book.” If I never once in 10 years wondered where a book was, I usually put in the Donate box.

Third, the “buy it again” test. I try to ask myself this about every book. If I didn’t own this book and I saw it at the thrift store for 50 cents, would I buy it? If the answer is Yes, then I keep it. If I would say No, I usually get rid of it.

Well, that’s all I have for now. I would really appreciate your answers or other comments. Thanks for reading.


Entirely Unnecessary Losses

“Excessive American caution” is how one writer, a U.S. military veteran, described the Obama administration’s approach to the “wars” we are fighting in the Middle East. He blames this approach for unnecessary deaths and woundings of American military personnel in these theaters of operations. (Please understand, I am NOT saying he is wrong.)

However, these “wars” have never been shown to be just and have been conducted un-Constitutionally (without a Declaration of War by Congress). Therefore, all deaths and injuries of American military personnel within these theaters of operations, have been unnecessary.

It has been popular to blame the Democrats, especially Obama, for pretty much every military problem since January 2009. But don’t forget that these illegal “wars” were began by a Republican president. While Barack Obama assuredly deserves blame for what happened on his watch, you can thank George W. Bush for getting us involved in this huge mess in the first place. And don’t forget the many Republican and Democratic members of Congress who have done nothing to stop it. Violating the Constitution IS an impeachable offense.


As an aside, many Americans are upset, and rightly so, over the whole domestic-spying-on-Americans issue, especially that which was done on the Trump campaign by the Obama administration. Most, if not all, of this is authorized by the USA PATRIOT Act, a piece of Republican legislation passed by a Republican Congress and signed by a Republican president.


Please do not think I am trying to defend Obama and the Democrats. I am not. However, many people tend to focus on the evils of the Democrats while overlooking, or even denying, those committed by the Republicans.

That which is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

Some Post-Election Thoughts

In this time of political turnover, we must remember that these riots and violent protests are being perpetrated by the basest element of (I hesitate to call them) Americans.

The reason for my hesitation is my belief that to be an American is more than just where you were born or where you live. “American” is a mindset, too. One where Law and Justice are just as important as Rights and Liberty. Because without one you can not have the other.

Many Americans are upset, even angry. Some are angry about the direction we’ve been going for the last several years. Others are angry about the new direction we appear to be headed. That is our right. We have the right to disagree with each other, including about government. We have the right to speak out about our beliefs, including our political beliefs, without being punished for it.

Lawlessness is not a right. We have the right to peaceably assemble, not to riot. We have the right to be secure in our possessions, not to destroy the property of others. Riots and violent protests are not American behavior.

We lawful Americans, of all political stripes, need to disavow such behavior. We will disagree on many things, many issues. But it should be done in a healthy manner. Debate, advocacy, petitions, etc. Learn about the issues, understand them, be able to speak intelligently about them. Examine your own positions on the issues. Why do you believe what you believe? Are your beliefs self-consistent? Truth is self-consistent; your beliefs, and not just your political ones, should be, too.

Do not judge by association. Most Republicans are not David Duke. Most Democrats are not rioting. Most of us independents are not hippies. Do not let politics and politicians ruin your friendships.

A Picnic at Arlington

June 9, 2016 – Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia

Row upon row, section upon section, white headstones stretch farther than the eye can see. Each one the final resting place of some man or woman who served their country. Many died on battlefields around the world fighting a nation’s wars. Many are heroes, if to none other than those they fought beside.

Over 400,000 American men and women are buried here. Since the War Between the States many of America’s fallen have been laid to rest in these grounds. More are added every day. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is here. This is history, these are facts. Bravery, honor, heroism, duty. Arlington is full of these things. But too often we forget something very basic about the people the names on all those stones belonged to.

My girlfriend, Lisa, and I went on vacation to Washington, D. C. in June of this year. I have loved American history since I was very young. This was my first time in Washington, D. C. We only had a few days and barely scratched the surface sightseeing. We walked around the Mall one day. We saw the U. S. Capitol and the White House another day. I was loving it, soaking up everything like a dry sponge drinks a drop of water.

Then Thursday we went to Arlington National Cemetery. I was excited, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Changing of the Guard, the U. S. Marine Corps Memorial, the Eternal Flame at the grave of JFK, I wanted to see it all. The most moving thing I saw in D. C. was not on my itinerary, however. Lisa knew some men who had died in the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and wanted to visit their graves. As we walked, walking between the graves in respect of the dead, she would place a small glass stone on top of each headstone, to show that someone had visited their graves and let their families know that their loved one was remembered. While she was doing this, I saw something that still brings tears to my eyes when I think about it. It was a picnic among the graves.

A woman and her teenage daughter had spread a sheet on the grass over one grave. They had plates of food set out. I do not know who they were. I do not know whose grave it was. It really doesn’t matter who it was. But this was no desecration. There were three plates set out. These two were sharing one more meal with their husband and father.

We need to remember that those buried here are not just numbers, not just casualties of war, they are also fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters. They were people and most of them left friends and family behind. They did not just sacrifice their life, but their lives. They sacrificed a chance to watch their children grow up, a chance to love their husbands and wives. And their families have sacrificed as well, losing someone they loved. Their lives have been turned on their heads.

We can’t bring their loved ones back. But we can be supportive. Laugh with them, cry with them, remember with them. Help them try to find normal again. They will never forget and they shouldn’t. The pain will never completely disappear. Don’t tell them to “get over it”, their life changed dramatically in a moment and they will not just “get over it”. They need time to adjust to a new normal. The best thing we can do is just be there for them.

Shopping Cart Economics: Wealth vs. Money and the So-Called “Trade Deficit”

I work in a grocery store.  Sometimes a customer will remark, “Well, there goes a hundred dollars,” as they hand me their money to pay for their groceries.  They say this in the same way as if they had thrown that same $100 in the river and watched it drift away.

These customers have the same problem as politicians, economists, and others who stress about the so-called “trade deficit.”  The problem is that many people understand Money and Wealth to be entirely synonymous, that is, Money is Wealth and Wealth is Money.  This is only half right.

Yes, Money is Wealth.  Wealth, however, is not necessarily Money, because Money is not the only form of Wealth.  Everything a person owns is a part of that person’s Wealth.  Houses and land, vehicles, stocks and bonds, furniture, indeed, everything down to the smallest, seemingly most worthless possession, makes up a person’s Wealth.  Even the food in his cabinets is included in his Wealth.

On the international level a “trade deficit” occurs when one nation spends more Money on goods produced by another nation than that other nation spends on goods produced by the first nation.  For example, ABC spends $100 million purchasing goods from XYZ.  XYZ buys $75 million worth of goods from ABC.  This creates a “trade deficit” of $25 million in XYZ’s favor.  This terminology ignores the fact that ABC received $100 million worth of goods (one form of Wealth) in return for the $100 million worth of Money (another form of Wealth).  There is no “trade deficit.”  ABC and XYZ conducted business to the tune of $195 million at a rate of $1 in goods to $1 in Money.

Now back to the shopping cart.  The customer is receiving $100 worth of groceries in return for $100 worth of Money.  The customer is not out $100.  He has traded Money for goods.  His Wealth has not diminished.  Depending on how valuable the groceries are to him, his Wealth may even have increased.  (If the customer had valued the Money more, he would not have traded it for the groceries. Value is not only objective, it can be and often is subjective.)

So, “There goes a hundred dollars,” you say?  Well, “Here comes a hundred dollars worth of groceries back at you,” I say.  “Have a nice day.”

Constitutional Support by the Founders

America’s history reflects a deep mistrust of authority. The strong, representative national government championed by the framers of the Constitution was a hard sell. Over the years, the Founding Fathers (helped along by generations of historians in search of “truth” and politicians in search of legitimacy) have been interpreted as disagreeing sharply and fundamentally about just what should be the right mix of Jeffersonian Democracy and Hamiltonian Republic. But in their own time, Franklin, Hamilton, Madison, Jay, and others put aside their differences to fight for the Constitution. They were convinced that a federal republic was preferable to more direct and decentralized versions of democracy.

From Richard C. Leone’s Foreword to Lawrence K. Grossman’s The Electronic Republic.

And So It Begins…

NaNoWriMo shield logo

Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month.

NaNoWriMo, that is.

50,000 words in 30 days. A novel in a month.

Sunday night (three days into the month) I finally came up with an idea of what to write about.

The working title is Not Every Man. This I took from a line in the movie Braveheart: “Every man dies. Not every man really lives.” A similar line and sentiment is used in Jason Aldean’s song Not Every Man Lives.

The story will be (primarily) in the Adventure genre. But I’m not going to say any more because every other time I have “spoilered” the plot before I’ve written something, I have lost the desire to actually write it. So I’m going to hold back right now and attempt to keep the desire to write alive.

Finally Found It

I finally found a book I have been looking for. I have checked in various libraries over the past several years, but have not been able to find it until today. I finally ran across it at Goodwill in Vienna, WV, for 50 cents.

Black Like Me, by John Howard Griffith, is the true account of the author’s travels and experiences through the American South in late 1959. Merely by changing the color of his skin from that of a white man to the darker tone of a black man, he experienced what it meant to be judged by nothing more than the color one’s skin. For six weeks Griffith traveled the South as a member of a minority “race”.

I look forward to reading this book.