A Groundhog Day issue. On this auspicious occasion, we remember the prognosticating groundhog's vicious-but-forgotten cousin, the hodag. The hodag was a dreadful and strong beast that terrorized the logging camps of the nineteenth century. It had great iron teeth, a long flat tail of bone with serrated edges that was as hard as steel. It ate bears, deer, and wildcats, but its favorite food was landlookers: those men that scouted areas for suitable logging operations. Once a landlooker was pursued by a hodag, he was doomed. The hodag could run faster, and if the landlooker climbed a tree, the hodag would cut it down with his tail. All that, anyway, according to Albert Jay Nock, writing in his Memoirs of a Superfluous Man, recounting days and lore from his childhood in Alpena, Michigan.
Trust Your Soul to Us, Inc.
The February 7th issue of U.S. News & World Report scribbled about a new employee benefit: spirituality. Large companies throughout our moneyed halls retain chaplains to offer counseling and other religious benefits to their employees. Some companies put a chaplain on the payroll; others just contract with freelance minister companies like Marketplace Chaplains, USA and its 1,600 chaplains that serve 254 companies in 38 states. Seems like a neat idea, but then you read the quote by a CEO who says that corporate chaplains produce "better, happier, and more productive associates." Ahhhh. Just when it seemed that soul-less corporate American could do something soul-ful, we find out that it's still all about the bottom line. More disturbing, it's more evidence that Big Business America is determined to be involved in every aspect of its workers' lives, from continuing education to child care to, now, praying.
From a recent article in Book Forum:
"In December 2004, Google announced 'Google Print,' a project to bring millions of easily searchable, digitized books to the Internet. The project, which has already begun and may take a decade to complete, will further heighten awareness of our vexed relationship to intellectual property. After digitizing the entire holdings of Stanford and the University of Michigan libraries (as well as sections of the libraries of Harvard, Oxford and the New York Public Library), Google Print will search the texts of these books–although one will only be able to read the entire text of those works whose copyright has lapsed and are therefore in the public domain. As for copyrighted titles, one will be able to search their text for names and key phrases but won't be allowed to read the books themselves (a function like Amazon's helpful, but similarly limited, 'Search inside this book' service). Instead, one will be directed to a library or bookstore where the book can be located."
"Do not act as if you were going to live ten thousand years." Marcus Aurelius
The teenager beat his girlfriend in the stomach with a baseball bat, killing their unborn baby. She consented to it. She didn't want to get her parents' consent for a regular abortion. The couple was no doubt confused and scared. But then again, wickedness is always confused and often scared.
10. "As riches increase and accumulate in few hands, as luxury prevails in society, virtue will be in a greater degree considered as only a graceful appendage of wealth, and the tendency of things will be to depart from the republican standard. ... It is a common misfortunate that awaits our State constitution, as well as all others." Alexander Hamilton
9. "The things that will destroy America are prosperity-at-any-price, peace-at-any-price, safety-first instead of duty-first, the love of soft living, and the get-rich-quick theory of life." Theodore Roosevelt
8. "Money is the fancy of a disembodied mind. It is an abstract goal, for what constitutes 'enough' cannot be determined or predicted." Norman Wirzba (not an exact quote) Negative support for Wirzba: "Money alone is the absolute good: not merely because it satisfies a want in concreto but because it satisfies want as such, in abstracto." Schopenhauer
7. "There's no money in poetry, but then there's no poetry in money, either." Robert Graves
6. "You run for the money. You don't even know about wild mountain honey." Steve Miller Band
5. "The only reason a great many American families don't own an elephant is that they have never been offered an elephant for a dollar down and easy weekly payments." Mad Magazine
4. "There are no recorded cases of men being made happy by money, and yet they continue to respond to its allure.” Malcolm Muggeridge
3. "He that is of the opinion money will do everything may well be suspected of doing everything for money." Benjamin Franklin
2. "If you want to know what a man is really like, take notice of how he acts when he loses money." Simone Weil
1. "I'd like to live as a poor man with lots of money." Pablo Picasso
The Last Shall Be First
Ira Gershwin and his wife and another couple were about to go out to dinner at a fashionable Manhattan restaurant. Gershwin offered to call for a table. He returned to say none was available. "Let me try," said the other man. He returned to announce that they indeed had a table available. Everyone wanted to know how he was able to accomplish this. "Simple," he said, "I told them I was Ira Gershwin." (Lifted from Joseph Epstein's Snobbery)
The Last Word
Lyssophobia: A fear of rabies so extreme that the sufferer manifests symptoms of the disease. "Let's hope there's nothing like lyssophobia for fear of homosexuals."