October 2022

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Updated: October 1, 2022

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Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.

– Steve Jobs, Apple ad

September 2022

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Updated: September 1, 2022

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But why, some say, the Moon? 

Why choose this as our goal? 

And they may well ask, why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas?

We choose to go to the Moon… We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win, and the others, too.

– John F Kennedy at Rice University in 1962

August 2022

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Updated: August 1, 2022

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When we say that our lives are short; short compared to what?

Certainly short compared to the life of a hypothetical immortal being.  But it might make more sense to compare our lives, not to a hypothetical immortal being – but to all the countless hypothetical people who never got to be born in the first place. From that perspective, it’s not really cruel that our lives aren’t longer – rather it’s a staggering, stupendous bonus that we get any time on the planet as conscious creatures at all.

– Oliver Burkeman on the Making Sense podcast



July 2022

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Updated: July 1, 2022

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Why is there something rather than nothing?

– An old philosophical question

June 2022

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Updated: June 1, 2022

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Well there’s a dark cloud rising from the desert floor

I packed my bags and I’m heading straight into the storm

Gonna be a twister to blow everything down

That ain’t got the faith to stand its ground

Blow away the dreams that tear you apart

Blow away the dreams that break your heart

Blow away the lies that leave you nothing but lost and brokenhearted

– Bruce Springsteen, The Promised Land

May 2022

😀 Updates since last month

Updated: May 1, 2022

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…we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

– Abraham Lincoln, The Gettysburg Address

The President and the Freedom Fighter

Author: Brian Kilmede
My Rating: 4/5

In some ways this was just a biography of two men – Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass – especially at the beginning of the book. It alternated chapters – Lincoln’s beginnings, Douglass’s beginnings – and so on. This was actually fine for me because I’ve not read a biography of either of these men. So it was nice to get a little background.

As the book went on it highlighted the events leading up to the Civil War and how both Lincoln and Douglass contributed to the outcome. I was very surprised at how unsure Lincoln was. I think we think of him as a confident, decisive man – but this book portrayed him as unsure and also willing to change his mind.

Douglass came across as incredibly brave – to escape slavery, to do all the things he did – speaking, newspaper, etc. – and then to go on to influence the President of the United States of America – that took guts. I also liked that Douglass wanted Black Americans to stay in America and be Americans.

We are American by birth and education, and have a preference for American institutions Why, oh why! may not men of different races inhabit in peace and happiness this vast and wealthy country?

This book did a good job showing that these men were not simple men. They were complex. They were willing to change their minds, when they were convinced. They were willing to speak their minds, even when it wasn’t popular. I believe American has a lot to owe to these two men.

I think the author to a good job of summing up this book and America in general in the introduction,

…America is a truly exceptional nation – not because we are perfect, but because we try to be.

The Color Purple

Author: Alice Walker
My Rating: 4/5

This is another book that I’m glad I didn’t watch the movie before I read it. I really enjoyed reading this book.

I knew this was a heavy book, but still the first page took me by surprise. It just punched you in the gut right away. After that, I kind of expected that for the entirety of the book — but that wasn’t the case, either — the punches did keep coming, but it wasn’t all bad.

After getting in the flow of the dialect used in the writing, it was an easy read. It moved fast and didn’t waste much time on unimportant details.

“The thing I believe. God is inside you and inside everybody else. You come into the world with God. But only them that search for it inside find it. And sometimes it just manifest itself even if you not looking, or don’t know what you looking for. Terrible do it for most folks, I think.

My wife asked me what I thought the title meant – The Color Purple. Celie, the main character, mentions it when she’s shopping for dresses – she wanted a purple dress, with maybe some red in it too. They can’t find a purple dress and she’s told her husband wouldn’t want to pay for red – she can choose brown, maroon or navy.

I think the color purple represents Celie’s wants and desires — and maybe her happiness, maybe her peace. She searched for it for most of the book and I think she got close a couple of different times, even some of her poor circumstances – but something usually disrupted it. Maybe teaching us that happiness and peace are fleeting.

The Killer Angels

Author: Michael Shaara
My Rating: 4/5

I liked this book. It was the first book I’ve read about the Civil War. I didn’t feel like it was one-sided and it seemed to explain a few things to me about the war and how people were thinking at the time. Especially the South’s point of view. Having not known anything about him, it was interesting to read about General Robert E Lee and how admired he was. James Longstreet was another admirable character from the South, who seemed to just continually get his spirit beat down… which I guess is what war is.

But, the obvious hero of this story is Colonel Joshua Chamberlain.

This is a different kind of army. If you look at history you’ll see men fight for pay, or women, or some other kind of loot. They fight for land, or because a king makes them, or just because they like killing. But we’re here for something new. I don’t … this hasn’t happened much in the history of the world. We’re an army going out to set other men free.

It was fun to read about the Battle of Gettysburg and how the soldiers thought and how they fought. Joshua Chamberlain was a former college professor who volunteered for the war. He was inspirational to his men and he was a tough soldier. When the Confederate soldiers were coming up the hill trying to out flank the Union, and Chamberlain was left with no other choice, he ordered his men to “fix bayonets” and charge down the hill toward the Confederate soldiers. It worked.

April 2022

😀 Updates since last month

Updated: April 1, 2022

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“The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either — but right through every human heart — and through all human hearts.”

– Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago

🎧 Podcast episodes I thought were interesting

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