Blog Post # 218 (poesie)    WHEN WORDS FAIL

Can one describe a chocolate’s taste
Or find soft words for baby’s smile
Can words tell honey’s sweet bouquet
Or express relief to rest awhile

Can one recount a rainbow’s arch
With words that bring to view its sight
Or portray the shadows of the moon
And thus, reveal its pale cold light

Are there apt words to sob relief
When the lost toddler’s tearfully found
That describe the lilac’s inebriate scent
The ocean’s wave’s full basso pound

Is there a word for the brush of lips
On newborn’s cool and silken brow
Or the splatting sound of dripping rain
That strikes the verdant leaves and boughs

Can one describe a rose’s red
The weathered hue of an old windmill
Tell me please, where do such words go
With so many heartfelt thoughts to fill

One need not fret nor search in vain
When it seems, words do not ensue
The sentiment’s so well conveyed–
Most times, a subtle tear will do.







The noun, “provenance” is an elegant one and is pleasant to enunciate; it utilizes the lips, breath and a minor bit of nasal resonance. An authenticating concept, it is used in the fine art and antiquary business to investigate and evaluate origin, authenticity and prior ownership (or possession) of a subject item.

The word is most often used to designate origin but can also be utilized regarding issues of sequence. It is in this latter sense of the word that we would devote this writing. For example, the most magnificent feature of Darwinian evolution is its revelations concerning the origins (or provenance) of man, vital to the understanding of the human body, and explanatory of its vestigial organs.

In an earlier post, whose subject was, our sadly underused exercise of natural reason, we cited a true personal experience of ours. When only a young sophomore in high school, we were confronted with a verbalized challenge from a classmate (the magnificent prize being two candy bars). We were asked the apocryphal question, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg.” After the expenditure of a few moments of thought, we flabbergasted the challenger with the correct and logically undeniable answer.  Since most of us believe in Darwinian evolution (even as children), and since it is common knowledge that all chickens, without exception, are hatched from eggs, the answer presented itself, necessarily, to be the egg. That first egg, logically, was laid by the creature which was but one step prior to the chicken, as we know it, in the evolutionary process. This example of provenance was cited, in the earlier setting, to show that we can utilize our reason to solve many of our problems, but often, do not seem to bother; as shown by the fact that this famous question is still heralded as among man’s so-called, “unsolvable problems.” The solution was, of course, based on logically understood provenance.

In matters of human experience, the determination of sequence, causal or otherwise, may not be as easy of solution; they are not simply matters of logical deduction (or induction). Events are subjectively attributable to variable causes, agreement as to which, is an additional subject of debate.

A great many American voters were completely nonplussed and blindsided by the unpredicted result of last year’s Presidential election. An egotistic, glitzy, television game show host, who was universally determined by experts to be incompetent in character, ability and knowledge to be the President of the United States (and ipso facto) leader of the free world, was elected to that historic office. Mr. Trump has validated all such prognostications, embarrassing the nation and confusing the entire world with his obvious and overt ignorance as to all affairs, national and international. His unprincipled and unembarrassed use of the office to enrich himself and his immediate family, resembling the corrupt governance of a banana republic, his expressions of support for racial and gender bigotry, his frivolous, unpredictable behavior, his derogation of learning and science (especially climate science), his adolescent predilections, all result in the conclusion that our country is beset with a virtual tsunami of jeopardy.

Despite this summary recitation of many of the concerns regarding the Trump administration, this post is not intended to center on that alarming travesty as such, but rather, to deal with its factual provenance. How did America get here, a subject, certainly relevant to the concern of all ardent citizens. We see two possible scenarios, the first, productive of a more optimistic and hopeful vista, the second, infinitely more pessimistic and indeed, profoundly worrisome.

[The first scenario] The election of Donald Trump, with its attendant pathology, was but a singular, one-off aberration, and based on the ensuing deplorable results, will not soon be replicated. It was an outcome driven in large part by a conglomerate of discontented voters, notably including the low-information, flat earth, reductionist cohort of our population, which generally does not vote, mesmerized by Trumps’ snake-oil salesman’s unspecified promises of a better tomorrow; in tandem with their tactical manipulation by well financed special interests, cynically seeking to increase profits from deregulation, regardless of the impact on the health of the nation and the planet. This was in combination with a lower than customary voter turnout from the more liberal, educated voters, disenchanted with the candidacy of Hilary Clinton.

[The second scenario] The contemporary quality of the American voter has markedly declined to a level, far below the Jeffersonian standard for the successful operation of a republican democracy (the literate and informed citizen). The national tendency regarding its preoccupation with superficial entertainment, in preference to literate and cultural activity, its derogation of scholarship and educational achievement including scientific progress, has resulted in a severely degraded citizen-voter, whose insular ignorance and reductive understanding makes him an easy prey for demagogic legerdemain. The elevation of Trump to the Presidency was not merely an episodic event, but a representative expression of the contemporary quality of the nation, and is predictive of future election outcomes.

In this regard, it may again be worth noting that the creation of plinyblog, two years ago, was dedicated to the goal of personal development and self- enhancement, for the dual benefit of the individual and the nation. It will continue to urge the reading of good literature, participation in the arts, awareness of government issues, the practice of empathy and secular based morality. It sees the avoidance of the virtually unlimited life potential, made possible by the generous gift from evolution of an advanced brain, acts of shameful ingratitude.

Of the two cited scenarios, we are dogmatically inclined to choose the first. We continue to retain faith in the ultimate and redeeming good sense of the American people. While a popular preference for superficial diversion and the tendency to insular and reductive thinking is far from desirable, we hold fast to the expectation that in each era, a substantial number of intelligent and thoughtful citizens will, responsibly and devotedly, manifest the appropriate criteria for useful citizenship, intended and confidently foreseen by our founding fathers.

Most encouraging and heartening is the realization that the quality of the nation’s electorate was recently such that it elected President Obama, an ideal embodiment of the criteria for a capable, intelligent and empathic chief executive and citizen, and did it, resoundingly, twice.




There may be no other more nauseating or disturbing visual experience than  suddenly encountering bloody, animal roadkill, while peacefully driving along a pretty country highway.  The ensuing resolve not to look at it as you get closer is too often, overridden by an irresistible impulse to evoke the horrible experience of looking at it up- close.

Despite our sincere resolve to refrain from further comment on the Trump Presidency, it seems that such resolve, from time to time, is overridden by such an irresistible impulse to express further comment.

Americans have experienced continuous embarrassment from the international statements and actions of our President, evoking complete confusion as well as fomenting great danger. This adolescent President, ignorantly and dangerously threatens foreign adversaries to the effect that our missiles are bigger than their missiles,[ such boast. equivalent to the adolescent jibe, my father can lick your father] , possesses a complete lack of dignity or demeanor in any way appropriate to the office of the Presidency, communicates mendacious and impulsive Presidential messages, not though such dignified formats as fireside chats or official news conferences. but by populist tweets,  derides scholarship, learning and science (especially, climate science), cynically violates the emoluments clause of the Constitution, which proscribes Presidential profit making, violates all considerations of conflict of interest, has converted the Oval Office into a mom and pop retail enterprise, is guilty of actions and statements  manifesting sexual abuse (at a time when such species of misbehavior is being finally, and publicly addressed), expresses bigoted opinions and a subtle support of White Supremacists, demonstrates consistent mendacity, yet attacks the responsible media for their truthfulness, cruelly treats  immigrants (in a nation of immigrants and their progeny), expresses opposition to women’s rights for equity in pay and personal control of their bodies, and has generally, demonstrated a marked level of ignorance, coupled with a false show of supreme confidence without question, continuously adds roadkill to the previous accumulation created by him that has gravely soiled the (previously revered) U.S. Office of the President.

Recently, Trump, arguably, exceeded  the excessive bounds of his previously reprehensible statements, by publicly referring to Haiti and the African nations as s—hole countries. This behavior, which would be unacceptable if uttered by the most disrespectable street person, let alone the President of the United States, supplied the shocking impetus for our current remarks, and is uncontrovertibly qualified to  enlarge the previously growing inventory of rank Presidential roadkill.

The traditional ancient Greek tragedies, authored by such outstanding playwrights as Sophocles, made for great theatrical entertainment, but also communicated an eternal therapeutic message, and a severe warning to the audience. In his plays, the protagonist, always a character larger than life, usually a king (as contrasted with our chief executive, who is of despicable description) ultimately suffers profound personal tragedy, as the result of his excessive pride and arrogance (hubris). During the play’s performance, a chorus, rocking back and forth (strophe and antistrophe), recites the intended lesson, sophrosyne, (moderation), warning the audience of the bitter end, predictably brought on by excess. The tragic denouement, usually so horrible as to evoke an intended catharsis (emotional release and cleansing) to the members of the audience, constituted an enduring lesson to all, concerning uncontrolled prideful behavior. The offending protagonist usually suffers  extreme and horrifying punishment, as plucking out his own eyes, or in the case of a female, the commission of the infanticide of her own children.

In certain of his works, our selected Greek playwright would show merciful relief by the employment of an ancient theatrical technique known as, deux-ex-machina (god in a machine )a mechanical device, bearing a devine personage to stay the horrible, retributive punishment, by its physical removal of a character or element in the play.

We make note of the continuing arrogant excesses practiced by our own despicable chief executive, whose frequent errant behavior is patently observable and well sung by our present day, estimable Greek chorus, especially, The New York Times and The Washington Post. Perhaps we can awake citizen Sophocles to arrange for a divine theatrical apparatus to remove the protagonist, before some horrendous tragedy is enacted.

Foir the present, we are obliged to suffer the daily unavoidable sight of accumulating, offensive roadkill.


Post # 215       OF THEE I SING

Frances Scott Key would no doubt, suffer a severe bout of apoplexy, were he able to listen in on our school children’s usual rendition of his poem, The Star- Spangled Banner. Written by him during the War of 1812, while a military prisoner aboard a British Warship, Key was exultant in his unexpected discovery that Ft. Sumpter (and, notably, its flag) had survived the night’s heavy bombardment by English naval canons. Key’s resultant poem, later set to music, would become our national anthem. He, if present and listening to those schoolchildren, would hear his poem, as sung, commence with the memorized but, evidently not understood, words, “My Country tisovthee..,” which years later, would properly translate to “My Country t’is  (it is) of thee.” Repetition of such three conjoined and multiply fractured words, are very seriously and dutifully intoned at every primary school assembly.

In similar fashion, many of our teachings, as a regular part of the early curriculum, were dutifully committed to the young student’s memory, if not to his understanding. An interesting illustration is present in the perpetually misunderstood assertion, quoted from the American Declaration of Independence, “All men are created equal….”

The Founding Fathers were, arguably, far above the average contemporary colonial American in erudition and dedicated foresight, and certainly did not intend to assert that all men are equal, in the modern sense of the word. It is the rare scientist that can bravely claim that he is the equal of Einstein or Newton, the rare essayist who can boast that he is the equal of a Faulkner or a Dickens, nor a boastful basketball player who can credibly assert that he is the equal of Michael Jordan. It is simply and empirically untrue that men are all born equal in capabilities and no such interpretation was ever intended.

The born equality, declared by the founders, was the then radical notion of a classless society; a nation without class distinction determined by privileged birth, which was an inequitable feature of the societies of England and Europe for many centuries. No longer, in this new experiment in Republican Democracy, was there to be a lifelong designation of societal status (merely) by the attribution of birth. This, in accurate fact, is the meaning and  the intention of the word “equality,” famously expressed in the Declaration of Independence.

In the interest of a responsible recitation of American history, it is necessary to observe that such declaration of natural born equality, for too long a time, was legally inapplicable to black people, whose status, continuing through the mid-nineteenth century, [especially in the agricultural south,] was no more exalted than that of mere farm equipment. It is also necessary to recognize the plight of women who, until relatively recently, could not legally vote or transact business.  The recognition of equal rights for all Americans, has, at last, become incorporated into our laws and institutional understanding, the application of which, in some cases, still need more satisfactory resolution.

Equality under the law for all citizens, has been the most admirable achievement of our democratic republic and was due to an ultimate societal recognition of equity among citizens [ unrelated to the language of the Declaration of Independence]. The valuable franchise of equality of opportunity, although, concededly, made possible by the founders’ early elimination of class distinction, was nurtured over time as part of the maturing moral framework of American society. Admittedly, more challenging economically or physically for some citizens than for others, success and upward progress, is the undertaken responsibility of the individual, a matter largely left to his own unfettered enterprise.

We have written about man’s unlimited freedom to choose a path which is life- enhancing and self fulfilling. We have often recommended reading good literature, participation in the arts and humanities or any other desired stimulating and enjoyable pursuit. In this area, we all have complete and unlimited equality of choice as to whether to live an insular, unstimulating and limited existence, or to take advantage of the generous gift of evolution, our advanced brain, whose utilization can provide a full and satisfying life. As to the choice of quality of life, all men have eternally been born equal.



Man’s ardent aspiration for enduring world peace has eternally been rewarded with dismal failure and disappointment. Proposed solutions including world organizations, attempted establishment of a common language (Esperanto), cultural and athletic exchanges, treaties, ententes cordial, and the like, have all proven to be abysmal failures. It might be of some interest, at this point to note that one working presentment of insanity, is the continuous performance of the same act, over and over, with the expectation of a different result.

We were enjoying our morning coffee and were able to see our outdoor birdfeeder from our breakfast table. The day evinced a heavy winter snowfall, freezing artic temperatures, accompanied by a steady diet of high gusty winds. English sparrows were at our bird feeder in droves, and were flapping away, energetically jostling each other in urgent competitive efforts to access the feeding portals. It was an impressive and dramatic demonstration of the emergent drive for food so desperately vital to the universal instinct for survival.

It requires no extraordinary leap of faith to declare that, without exception, all living inhabitants of terra firma share an identical instinctive drive for nourishment and survival. Many bird species span the globe in search for food at the appointed season, wildebeests and other four-legged beasts of the field, migrate long distances to secure life sustaining nutrition, as do other creatures seeking food, such as prey or lush pasture for grazing.

Our observation of the sparrows, desperately ingesting life- sustaining nourishment at our bird feeder on that bleak, wintry day, was a cogent and effective reminder of the vast existence of human want. Reliable statistical data reveals that currently, 795 million inhabitants of our world (1 in every 9 people) do not have sufficient food to sustain healthy, active lives. The data shows that the vast majority of the world’s hungry live in what have been politically designated as underdeveloped countries, where12.9% of the population is dangerously undernourished.

A myriad of basic causes has been ascribed as causative of war, among which are, xenophobia, desire for natural resources, doctrinal motivation, desire for aggrandizement, ignorance and bigotry, ethnic and religious conflict, desired acquisition of markets and spheres of influence, and desire for power and world domination. Whatever the consensus of attribution may be respecting any selected conflict, the mandatory prerequisite for the waging of war is the mobilization of a hungry and discontented people by a bellicose government; one offering false and cynical assurances of a better life resulting from waging war against a nation, to which responsibility is tactically ascribed for such suffering and discontent.

The vision of the sparrows, challenged by hunger and frigid temperatures yet instinctively aware that the food available from the birdfeeder, would result in their survival, afforded us an unexpected epiphany, one, in the form of a veritable a signpost, indicating the direction of a possible and practical route to the attainment of world peace.

Several years ago, we were driving on a highway close to New York’s Hudson River, where we observed a rather substantial fleet of WW2 (obsolete) Navy ships afloat in mothball storage. The recollection of that sight, in combination with the vision of the bird feeders and the hungry sparrows, combined to reveal, productively, that possible route to enduring world peace.

In analogous function to our bird feeder, one could conceivably pull the large ships out of mothballs, clean and sanitize their holds, and then stock them with nutritious food, such as oatmeal, and then deliver such food, spontaneously, and without any charge or condition, to the needy and hungry people across the globe. Whether their respective nation had been categorized by our government as friend or foe would be entirely irrelevant.  Well -fed people will not be the despairing human resource which a miscreant autocrat, or a demagogue could strategically and cynically mobilize for war; most especially against those who feed them and overtly demonstrate observable empathy. In addition to employing a route to peace, such unconditional assistance would qualify as commendable acts of responsible human charity.

We are most fortunate to live in a bountiful country with a plentitude of food surpluses; it would be appropriate and wise, apply a portion of our surplus to feed others and thereby enhance a less than bountiful number of enduring international friends.

The proposed oatmeal-sparrow solution for world peace would certainly qualify as food for thought, and we would humbly estimate, is well worth a sincere and energetic try



Buried somewhere, deep in the unconscious of every sentient human being, is the awareness of the implacable fact of his mortality. Such private acknowledgement, for clearly practical reasons, is repressed, or deferred, in the well- adjusted person, to enable him to live spontaneously and productively. The reality of his human mortality is later impressed upon him by his aging, his experiences attending funerals, and by reports, personal and media, of the deaths of others.

The inevitably of death gains credibility and reluctant acceptance as we mature; it is then that the practical necessity of the preparation of a Last Will and Testament becomes appropriate. Customarily, assets of the decedent’s death are designed to be left, to borrow a legal phrase, to the natural objects of his bounty. There is some private sense of satisfaction in the expectation that the unused fruits of one’s labor will, by one’s act, enhance the lives of his beneficiaries, after his demise.

It is our observed experience that, aside from the all- important subjects of money and property, the bequest of personal physical objects, such as artifacts and collectibles, valued and cherished by the decedent, are especially productive of poignant and nuanced recollection of the deceased. The objective assets received are gratefully accepted, but thereafter not specifically identifiable with the identity of the deceased; personal property, specifically referable to him, will serve as his enduring memorial.

We, by analogy, have all been the fortunate beneficiaries of a green and extremely fruitful planet, graced by the beasts of the field and fauna of every description, as well as a diverse flora, displaying beautiful flowers, plants and trees; all in all, a lush environment and veritable nursery where evolution could take place; and ultimately, over uncountable eons, lead to the Homo sapiens, with an opposable thumb, and, most remarkably, an advanced brain. The inheritors of such a desirable planetary legacy, inclusive of fresh water and a clean, healthy atmosphere, thrived, formed human societies, and enhanced human life. Until the time of capitalistic industrialization, with its disregard for the planet and its inhabitants in favor of profits, man’s unearned legacy was passed on, inviolate, to his descendants.

Regrettably, it appears that the Earth’s generous, bountiful and hospitable environment, its water, flora and fauna, have been immorally and irresponsibly assailed by politically influential captains of industry (especially, but not limited to, the producers of power) with extremely deplorable and shameful results. With the surprising and disappointing assistance of our (formerly revered) Supreme Court, in the Citizen’s Union case, immoral plunderers of the Earth’s riches, could legally apply unlimited financial support to the profit- worshipping despoilers of our planet, its environment and of humanity’s health.

Our present government and its sycophants, in fervent worshipers of the great monotheistic Deity,  Profit, but strategically heretical towards science, especially climate science,  have intentionally and shamefully, turned a deaf ear to the millions of citizens who decry the destruction of the environment and who strive, in vain, for a return of rational and enlightened governance; one, significantly inclusive of the moral and responsible care and preservation of the environment and its inhabitants.

Our descendants will, accordingly, not be the natural beneficiaries of a green and fruitful planet (at least, to the extent that we were). They, undeservedly and without fault, will receive less than we ourselves freely inherited, then despoiled and ultimately, (meagerly and shamelessly) passed on to them.  Our progeny and their successors, it seems, will inherit the empty legacy of a challenging atmosphere, unhealthy natural environmental resources, and the curtailed aesthetics of a chronically ailing planet.

In what manner, may it rationally be expected, that our descendants will memorialize us?