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Archive for the ‘books’ Category

The “We” Word


‘WE’ is the word used to steal virtue from the good, to steal strength from the strong and to steal wisdom from the sages.

Ayn Rand in “Anthem:”

For the word “We” must never be spoken, save by one’s choice and as a second thought. This word must never be placed first within man’s soul, else it becomes a monster, the root of all the evils on earth, the root of man’s torture by men, and an unspeakable lie.

The word “We” is as lime poured over men, which sets and hardens to stone, and crushes all beneath it, and that which is white and that which is black are lost equally in the grey of it. It is the word by which the depraved steal the virtue of the good, by which the weak steal the might of the strong, by which the fools steal the wisdom of the sages.

What is my joy if all hands, even the unclean, can reach into it? What is my wisdom, if even the fools can dictate to me? What is my freedom, if all creatures, even the botched and impotent, are my masters? What is my life, if I am but to bow, to agree, and to obey?

But I am done with this creed of corruption.

I am done with the monster of “We,” the word of serfdom, of plunder, of misery, falsehood and shame.

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Oh Poor Lady Caroline …

Try as she may to be snooty and dismissive to others, her bewitching beauty and lovely voice betrayed her true feelings. The more she tried to be rude and cold to acquaintances. the more they were enchanted by her natural charms and they loved her even more. Oh, to be so cursed as was Lady Caroline!

So she ignored Mrs. Arbuthnot’s remark and raised forefinger, and said with marked coldness–at least, she tried to make it sound marked–that she supposed they would be going to breakfast, and that she had had hers; but it was her fate that however coldly she sent forth her words they came out sounding quite warm and agreeable. That was because she had a sympathetic and delightful voice, due entirely to some special formation of her throat and the roof of her mouth, and having nothing whatever to do with what she was feeling. Nobody in consequence ever believed they were being snubbed. It was most tiresome. And if she stared icily it did not look icy at all, because her eyes, lovely to begin with, had the added loveliness of very long, soft, dark eyelashes. No icy stare could come out of eyes like that; it got caught and lost in the soft eyelashes, and the persons stared at merely thought they were being regarded with a flattering and exquisite attentiveness. And if ever she was out of humour or definitely cross–and who would not be sometimes in such a world?—she only looked so pathetic that people all rushed to comfort her, if possible by means of kissing. It was more than tiresome, it was maddening. Nature was determined that she should look and sound angelic. She could never be disagreeable or rude without being completely misunderstood.

‘I had my breakfast in my room,’ she said, trying her utmost to sound curt. ‘Perhaps I’ll see you later.’

And she nodded, and went back to where she had been sitting on the wall, with the lilies being nice and cool round her feet.”

“The Enchanted April,” by Elizabeth von Arnim, at the end of Chapter 6.

Perhaps I’ll see you later.

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Evelyn Nesbit on a Bear Rug

I have been listening to an audio book of “Ragtime,” which I purchased because I have tickets to the play “Ragtime” that is scheduled for the Kennedy Center in May. Halfway through the book, I have decided that Evelyn Nesbit and Harry Thaw are featured characters that I should know more about. To learn more about them is quite easy, as, before reading “Ragtime” I had never heard anything of either of them; for all I knew, they were figments of the author’s imagination.

After the author’s coverage of Houdini, Teddy Roosevelt, Admiral Byrd, the famous psychiatrists Freud and Jung, I decided that murderer Harry Thaw, Gibson Girl Evelyn Nesbit and Evelyn’s lover Stanford White must have been historical characters. In 1906, Harry Thaw’s trial for the murder of White was labelled the “Trial of the Century.” Of course, OJ Simpson had not yet been born, and his trial for murder was fated for the end of the same century.

I find “Ragtime” interesting reading as it covers the historical events of my father’s boyhood. He was born 1901, and came to the U.S. as a teen. Also, my grandmother and my mother had grown up on a Virginia plantation of the family of another Gibson Girl, Irene Langhorne Gibson. I remember my grandmother recounting how she and her siblings played with the discarded drawings of Irene’s artist husband, Charles Dana Gibson. This is all doubly intriguing, as E.L. Doctorow links all of his historical characters with one another, and with his created characters, and I have found that my own family is linked to the very same people of his novel.

Well, back to “Ragtime” and Evelyn Nesbit, I finally Googled her this morning. (I’m not sure if “Google” the verb should be in caps or not.) She and her star-crossed lovers are in Wikipedia as real American characters and she even has her own web page: “The Story of Evelyn Nesbit.”

UPDATE WARNING: I downloaded this audio book from the Apple Store through iTunes. Halfway through the book I discovered that four or five chapters in the middle are missing. This is a defect in the actual audio book that Apple sold me, not a download problem. This is the very first book I have downloaded from Apple, so needless to say, I am NOT impressed.

The image, Evelyn Nesbit, was originally uploaded by westiemom. It is posted here from Barneykin’s Flickr account.

Visit Neddy’s Archives for more of Edna’s writings.

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Today, January 5th is the Eve of the Epiphany. A Picture from Edna

For our ancestors, who celebrated “Old Christmas,” the night preceding January 6th is the Eve of Epiphany. It was on this night, over 2000 years ago, that the Magi came to Bethlehem to find the baby Jesus.

Today, the Day of Epiphany is still known as “Old Christmas,” which was the day that Christmas was celebrated before the calendar changed in the 18th century. One of the old beliefs concerning the Day of Epiphany was that a person should never lend anything to anybody on Old Christmas Day, because the lender would never get it back again. Also, the Eve of Epiphany is the night when the Holy Spirit manifests Itself upon the earth in many subtle ways. Upon that night, no matter how hard the ground was frozen, elder bushes would sprout from the ground. Even more mysterious is our ancestors’ belief that at midnight on Old Christmas Eve, if they crept silently into a barn or field, they could hear the cattle and sheep praying. At the exact stroke of midnight on Old Christmas Eve, animals would start moo-ing and baa-ing and bellowing as though they were crying, in remembrance of their own ancestors who had been present in the stable at Bethlehem to witness the birth of the Christ Child and His revelation to the Magi.

A wonderful book that I am reading about celebrating Christmas in England of long ago is “Old Christmas” by Washington Irving.

The image, The Epiphany, was originally uploaded by barneykin. It is posted here from Barneykin’s flickr account.

Visit Neddy’s Archives for more of Edna’s writings.

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OVER 10,000 Apple Apps and Counting!
Did you know, that in the first 142 days since Apple first started accepting new iPhone/iPod Touch Apps, there have been over 10,000 Apps added to the iTunes App Store?

My grandson told me that he has downloaded five pages of Apps onto his new iPod Touch. My Touch holds twice as much as his and I have only five Apps in toto: Facebook, Crazy Candle (came in handy for a candle-less birthday), Stanza (love it for reading ebooks), Twitterific and DataCase. Actually I have only four, as DataCase, the most expensive of all of them, didn’t work, so I deleted it.

So, thanks to Grandson’s enthusiasm, I went to the Apple Apps Store and downloaded many of the recommended ones at this link: “Top 15 iPhone Apps of 2008,” except for the games, plus a few others I found. Games bore me. I only downloaded the “FREE” Apps, as I know from experience that the Apps that charge oftentimes do not work, and there is little if any chance of getting a refund. Then I went to bed and before falling off to sleep I tried figuring out what I had done. Imagine this – I now have 160,000 recipes on my iPod, the complete works of Shakespeare plus some that scholars are not sure he wrote, Pandora radio, Urbanspoons restaurants, and two more lights, in case I need to see where I’m going at night. Now I need to find time to sync these to my new iPhone.

I am here to report that the favorite of all that I downloaded has got to be Pandora. It works perfectly. I now have my own custom made radio on this little device. It is like the old “Bluegrass Country” at WAMU has come back to life. WAMU kicked “Bluegrass Country” over to HD radio and the Internet, so they could have more “BORING, BORING” talk on WAMU. I’ve not listened to them since. Who needs them anyway? I’ve got an iPod Touch with all my favorite music on it. But I do miss Ray Davis.

The Shakespeare App is incredible, except it is not easy to read. I am used to reading books on my iPod Touch with STANZA, and I feel certain that I can download Shakespeare’s plays from STANZA for reading. But this Shakespeare App is nice for impressing my friends with my “new found” erudition. See, I carry ALL of the Bard’s works in my purse. If there are any quotations that they cannot remember, I can find them all right here on my iPod.

One of the lights was really not worth the price – FREE. I am going to delete that as I cannot figure what it is suppose to do, except click off and on. I like the Flashlight, as it could come in handy at the theater or when trying to find something at the bottom of my black bag (my purse). I’ve not tried the WordPress App yet.

Most of these Apps need WiFI to work, which in the past would have been a problem for me, as the iPod Touch is not always connected. That is probably why I had not downloaded so many Apps to it. Like the Google Maps are great, but I don’t usually need them at home where I have computers and Internet. I need them when I’m away from home – like on the streets of DC where they don’t work on the iPod Touch. Now my iPod Touch stays home and I go abroad with my new iPhone, where I will always be 100% connected to the real world – the Internet.

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Why not take an interest in your children, when they are yet children? Why not, indeed? Even a Communist can be right at least sometimes.

In the life of children there are two very clear-cut phases, before and after puberty. Before puberty the child’s personality has not yet formed and it is easier to guide its life and make it acquire specific habits of order, discipline, and work: after puberty the personality develops impetuously and all extraneous intervention becomes odious, tyrannical, insufferable. Now it so happens that parents feel the responsibility towards their children precisely during this second period, when it is too late: then of course the stick and violence enter the scene and yield very few results indeed. Why not instead take an interest in the child during the first period?” ~~Italian Communist leader Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937)

I am trying to learn more about other political systems, now that the old ones that I have been used to are being plowed asunder. With the banks recently nationalized in America, and the automobile industry soon to be, I am trying to understand the coming political movements and the ramifications. That is why I have been reading socialist and communist writings to see what is in store for us. Then I happened upon this little gem from an Italian communist, which was much more interesting than anything I had read about communism before.

This may no longer be our fathers’ America, but, even if we go communist, we will probably still have “parents” in America.

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Below is a screen-shot of part of my PortableReading library at Facebook.

A Picture from Edna

I am very skeptical of most applications at Facebook. I have had some bad experiences with them. A music application I tried took over my computer and would not let me escape from its website. Just today, I tried one that a friend sent me, which resulted in a $9.95 charge on my cell phone – unbeknownst to me. So beware with most of them.

However, here is one, totally “FREE,” that I cannot say enough good things about. At Facebook the application is known as “PortableReading” however, its website calls itself “TextOnPhone,” which is somewhat confusing.  “TextOnPhone” is for iPhones and iPods which I have not had much success with on my iPod Touch. For iPod reading I use Stanza, as I have already blogged.

But … “PortableReading” works wonderfully on Facebook. Join Facebook for free, and then sign on for the “FREE” application “PortableReading.” Then you will have your own personal library at your fingertips. You can choose your free books, set the type, colors, and size, so that you can read on your computer screen without scrolling by just clicking the “next” button to go to the next page. I do not know if one can use this application without an Internet connection. I have not been able to do that on my iPod Touch, which is another reason I prefer Stanza for that.

Stanza does not have a Facebook application, so if you want to conveniently read “FREE” books on your computer, PortableReading works great. Give it a try.

The image, My Facebook Library, was originally uploaded by barneykin. It is posted here from Barneykin’s flickr account.

Visit Neddy’s Archives for more of Edna’s writings.

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I have two reading applications on my iPod Touch. I think they are available for free download at the Apple Apps Store. They are Stanza and TextOnPhone, also known as Portable Reading. So far, all of the books I have downloaded were free.

The one app that I prefer is Stanza. Check out their homepage here: http://www.lexcycle.com/. I like the way that the text fits perfectly on the iPod Touch screen with no need to scroll up and down, and the ease of moving from page to page by just touching the edge of the screen.

TextOnPhone is the one I started with. I access it through FaceBook and there is a very good video that shows how to use it. I find that it does not fit perfectly on my iPod screen and I cannot read one page at a time without scrolling. Perhaps others don’t have that problem. However, the access to it through FaceBook is really nice. I don’t see that Stanza has that.

What seems wonderful about both of these applications is that pages are automatically cached, so that when there is no Internet connection, one can still read. Here is the video for TextOnPhone: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QWd8J8C3Gaw.

You can listen to your music too, whilst reading. Nice.

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Apple – I am not sure that it is a “good thing” to mess around with my iPod!

It took a while for Granny Edna to get to know how to work this iPod thingamajig. I have been basically pleased with most of the new updates from Apple, especially since they stopped wiping my iPod Touch clean each time they updated. However, with this last update, some basic modes of use have been changed and totally without warning.

I first noticed it the next morning after listening to my iPod in bed, when I awoke to find my battery was dead. I am accustomed to my iPod shutting down automatically at the end of a pod-cast. Now it just keeps going and going, kinda like the energizer bunny, playing pod-cast after pod-cast and when it goes through all of the pod-casts, it starts over.

Now that little scenario is handy when listening to the iPod while driving, as before I had to start a new chapter of an audio book, each time the old chapter (podcast) finished, which meant waiting for the next red light to come along. But it is definitely not handy when I am listening to an audio book in bed and I fall asleep. When I awake, I’ve finished the entire book, but have no idea which chapters I’ve heard.

So now I’ve had to discipline myself NOT to fall asleep whilst listening. The minute I get drowsy, I must disconnect the iPod and turn it off. That’s when I discovered that the iPod Touch doesn’t turn off any more, even when done manually. Although it looks like it’s off, it really isn’t. It is still broadcasting all the podcasts it can find, even though no one is listening to them. Again – dead battery in the morning.

What happened to my iPod Touch? I looked at the settings and found none that I could control. I haven’t had a chance to look at the Online Manual yet – been too busy ranting on my blog about how much trouble this latest iPod Touch update is.

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A country without a patent office and good patent laws was just a crab, and couldn’t travel any way but sideways or backways.” ~~The Connecticut Yankee

I have just finished an audio reading of Mark Twain’s “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” from John Greenman at Librivox.org.

Having patent attorneys amongst my descendants, I was quite captivated by the Connecticut Yankee’s valuation of patents. As soon as he had obtained rank of importance in Camelot, the Yankee wrote:

“The first thing you want in a new country, is a patent office; then work up your school system; and after that, out with your paper.”

“the very first official thing I did, in my administration — and it was on the very first day of it, too — was to start a patent office; for I knew that a country without a patent office and good patent laws was just a crab, and couldn’t travel any way but sideways or backways.

I so enjoyed Mr. Greenman’s audio presentation that I sent his reading of “Tom Sawyer” to my grandson. Now I also have been captivated by listening to Tom’s Adventures on my computer: http://www.archive.org/details/tom_sawyer_librivox.

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