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Archive for November, 2009

Malcolm Gladwell is a media empire.  If you don’t believe me, google the name and discover he takes up more space than Connecticut.  And has anyone noticed, the man does not have a decent photograph of himself?  Please, don’t break into a sweat if you are a fan as I am not disparaging him.  He ferrets out interesting topics, reads and investigates, and finally writes an essay worth your time to read.

He writes and writes, and fortunately for us he knows how to cull his own work so when a new collection like What The Dog Saw and other adventures comes out you know every essay is good.  My recommendation extends to Clarion Friends and to President Obama as well.  The President could learn a thing or two from this book, particularly Part Two: Theories, Predictions, And Diagnoses.

After reading his Outliers: The Story Of Success I recall writing something about it for Clarion Friends; however, if I did I must not have given him credit because I can’t find it.  To make amends I suggest you put both books on your Christmas wish list.  If Santa does not come through, take your indulgence in hand and buy them yourself.

Does anyone know what they pay him at the New Yorker?  He surely gets more money and benefits than a Congressional Representative.  Charles Marlin

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The readers who devoted a part of their younger years to Strunk & White will recognize in Stylized: A Slightly Obsessive History Of Strunk & White’s The Elements Of Style that Mark Garvey could have shortened his title by two words.  Even so it was fun to read and remember.

I began graduate study in Rhetoric And Public Address at Indiana University in 1959, so long ago that the study has a new name Rhetoric And Public Culture.  Perhaps it was sagacious of my university to tell me it was time to retire.  Back in 1959, Robert G. Gunderson, the professor I most wanted to impress, came bounding in to class waving this little book which he declared would “save your ass again and again.”  Whether I was green, dumb, awed, or all three, I thought the book was his special discovery.  I bought it and in my mind and conversation it was “Gunderson’s book.”

Degrees and career and the little book have come and gone.  The degrees are framed.  The career is a monthly retirement check.  The little book is lost.  Maybe I loaned it to someone.  Maybe I packed it in a box of books that were never unpacked.  At this moment I wish I had the little book in hand.

If you are part of a morning coffee group then you are repeating your stories far too often for others’ comfort.  Read Garvey’s story of Strunk & White’s friends and foes then and now, and you will have something new to talk about to your friends’ delight.  If you have biological heirs in academic training, give each a copy of William Strunk, Jr. and E. B. White, The Elements Of Style, Fourth Edition, forward by Roger Angell.  It comes in plain paperback as befitting a student and a fancy version.  Your heirs will eventually see you as wise.  If not, they are probably a lost cause.  Charles Marlin

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The Tudors were a family not disinclined to eat their own if threatened which made them both entertaining and engaging.  The current royals pale in comparison, perhaps because of all the German dilution.  Sadly we can only stand back and watch as the English pride in their royals wains.  Because of the dreary state of English affairs, Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall is a welcomed read.

Our hero in the novel is not Henry VIII or Anne Boleyn although she comes in a strong second, it is the down and dirty street fighter Thomas Cromwell who makes himself the consummate royal councilor.  Cromwell eventually learns how to take the sludge and emesis, the animal and human waste of the Thames and make a very saleable wine of it.  His trick of survival was to never drink more than a ceremonial sip while others indulged themselves.

If in the past you have stumbled over the large cast of Tudor characters, the author has come to your aid by providing lists of characters and the family shrubbery of the Tudors.  Even so it is a hopeless task to try to understand how the English run a government.  Based on how they function at home it must have taken divine intervention for them to clutch their first colony let alone something approaching an empire.

  This leads to my theory on the nurturing of Shakespeare, yet another reason to enjoy reading about Thomas Cromwell and associates.  It was the fractious, bloody, in-your-face people with a language held together by thievery and the unwashed of street and tavern that brewed the right amount of vitamins, minerals, proteins, and hormones to give William Shakespeare the superior edge on stage.

For the main characters of the novel there are Thomas Cromwell and Henry VIII as you would expect.  Then there are the queens Thomas Wolsey, Katherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, and Thomas More.  It is any wonder that by the end of the book, two had a forced exit with more to follow.  Peace and tranquility require one and only one queen.  Charles Marlin and John Hink

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The World Funky Deviled Egg Plate 2010 Competition entry # 10 from Rita May Raintree.

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       Whereas, The Bridge Builders Community Foundation Operating Protocol Section 2.1 Vision Statement reads By unifying the Community Foundations serving Clarion, Forest, Venango and other counties the Bridge Builders Community Foundations will provide an effective way of serving donors and communities by creating and growing endowments that serve the needs in our service area;

       Whereas, The Bridge Builders Community Foundations have demonstrated intention to organize Penn Jefferson Community Foundation as an affiliate serving Jefferson County; and

       Whereas, Contiguous Butler County is without community foundation services; now, therefore, be it

       Resolved, That the Bridge Builders Community Foundations webside http://bridgebuilderscommunityfoundations.com/ include a separate page devoted to the new affiliate in Jefferson County once it is organized; and

       Resolved, That the Bridge Builders Community Foundation website http://bridgebuilderscommunityfoundations.com/ include a separate page offering community foundation services to Butler County; and

       Resolved, That each affiliate of Bridge Builders Community Foundations shall in turn serve as custodian of endowment funds created in Butler County until a Butler County affiliate is organized.

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The Board of Directors of the Clarion County Community Foundation met Wednesday, November 18, 2009, to hear reports and conduct business.

The first report was on Clarion Friends and the continuing problem with our PayPal account.  A donor can not access our PayPal account to make a donation and the Board can not obtain a satisfactory explanation.  The second report was by Vice President Janice Horn on what has recently transpired at BBCF Trustees meetings.  The third report was by our Treasurer Jerry Belloit on the Managed Investment Accounts.

Our Executive Director Steve Kosak gave a short review of the Wealth Transfer Symposium sponsored by BBCF at Seneca Hills Bible Conference on Friday, November 13, 2009.  He anticipates holding follow-up meetings on creating a legacy society for each affiliate as well as a data base for an annual appeal and other mailings.

The Board reviewed the recently approved BBCF Protocol on Grant Decisions.  The Protocol outlines how in a timely fashion decisions by fund committees can be passed on to an affiliate board of directors and then on to the board of trustees to take final action on the fund committees recommendations.

The Board approved a resolution to be passed on to the BBCF Trustees on promoting the organization of community foundation affiliate in Jefferson County, as well as extending endowment fund services to Butler County.  The resolution is important enough that it will be posted in its entirety after this posting.

The final action of the meeting was the election of three new Directors, Anne Day of Clarion, Barry McCauliff of Shippenville, and Matt Best of Shippenville.  There remains two open positions on the Board and if anyone is interested they may contact any Board member or the Board President Charles Marlin at (814) 797-2233.

Board members are divided into three classes that expire sequentially.  If elected a Board member may serve two consecutive terms for a total of six years.  Those members of the 13 March 2010 class are Nancy Ambrose, Anne Day, Janice Horn, William Rupert, and Jane Schautz.  Those members of the 13 March 2011 class are Clara Belloit, Jerry Belloit, Charles Marlin, Barry McCauliff, and Rhonda McMillen-Toth.  Those members of the 13 March 2012 class are Matt Best, William Hearst, and Randy Vossburg.  Charles Marlin

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Good soldiers and good reporters are made under fire when an honesty of action and of words are fused.  We can learn from such fusion.  David Finkel began his recording of the 2-16 battalion, the Second Battalion, Sixteenth Infantry Regiment of the Fourth Infantry Brigade Combat Team, First Infantry Division, nicknamed The Rangers, in January 2007 and finished in June 2008.  He spent eight months with the 2-16 in Iraq, through blood, sweat, shit, dust, fear, bravery, breakdown, dismemberment, and death.  To his honor he reported only what he saw without padding, politics, or soapbox.  His The Good Soldiers is a tough emotional read but felt good to be trusted with an account the soldiers would respect.

The officers and soldiers on the ground in Iraq did not lose the war.  They fought and were maimed, broken, and died because they did their job well.  The disjointure between action on the ground and policy in Washington falls to the blame of the political leadership who understood nothing before and during.  Each chapter is prefaced by a timely and relevant quote from President Bush, but the Bush quotes could just as easily been paired with any number of statements made by administrative appointees and Congressional leaders.  We suffered a massive collapse of leadership at home; however, the 2-16 in Iraq did the suffering and then the suffering came home to their families.

Don’t read the book if you can’t stand the heat.  Don’t read the book if you think there are excuses for Washington.  Charles Marlin

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Everyone has a legacy regardless of age, money, or property.  Legacy is what you leave to others when you die.  If you are old enough to think about death then you have reached the age of legacy.

We begin with the story of a young, athletic brother who upon graduation from high school finds the job market tough and dry.  He can’t find anything that would make him enough to cover a car payment, car and health insurance, and leave enough to live away from home.  So he joins the military and is proud of his move.  His parents are more worried than proud but acknowledge their son is a man of principles.  They brag and they pray.  His younger sister considers him her number one ultimate.  Every future boyfriend will be measured against the yardstick of her brother.

When he finishes training and before deployment, the military will force him to fill out the necessary blanks on a standard will and last instructions.  He thinks that is unnecessary as his insurance already names his mother.  What else does he have?  Not much.  There is a pile of well used Steeler and Penguin stuff and his well cared for collection of athletic equipment.  The clothes have been casually washed a lot of times, and no one pays more than a fraction of the cost  for used boots and skis and so on.  His ATV he reconditioned after buying it cheap from a kid two years ahead of him in high school.

Here is where he is wrong.  His biggest legacy is the relationships he leaves behind and the life he lived.  As a good son he has given his mother first place in his affairs by making her his insurance beneficiary.  But what about his younger sister?  What can he leave her?  What about all his high school friends, his hunting buddies, the neighbors, his grandparents and all the rest of his family?

To his sister he can say volumes by making all his Steeler and Penguin shirts, scarfs, sweaters, you name it, a gift to her.  She will know the meaning of it and keep their game spirit together for the rest of her life, far beyond the life of the stuff.  She will eventually have to put the scraps together for a blanket that one of grandkids will claim for their security blanket.

He can request that his parents gather his athletic gear together with the ATV and give it to the community foundation to convert into cash to help the sweetest spot on earth, his home town.  The community foundation will treat his legacy as they do other legacies.  They will give it full honors and make sure the hometown knows about its son and his gift.  His little sister, all his family, his friends, and the community will know the cut of this man.

His legacy becomes legacies.  As the memory of this man lives on in others a standard is set without a sermon given.  His legacy is an imperative in other lives.  Give to those you love.  Charles Marlin

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bis2aWhen I stopped in Princeton, Kentucky, at Nancy Newsom Mahaffey’s Newsom’s Old Mill Store for some of her aged, hickory smoked country ham I saw this book on the counter and knew it was a keeper.  It was the 10 Year Anniversary Edition of Joseph E. Dabney, Smokehouse Ham, Spoon Bread, & Scuppernong Wine: The Folklore and Art of Southern Appalachian Cooking

 The writing  is  conversational.  The story is true and personal.  The food is down home.  The recipes are tested and ready.

The book is about the foods and lives of the people of the mountains in western Virginia, West Virginia, western end of the Carolinas, and the mountain plateaus extending to Georgia and Alabama.  While populationbisa and time have changed everything there is and will always be good eating and happy times in those mountains.  The book is an open invitation to visit, if not by travel then by taking to your own garden, orchard, and kitchen, and tasting food that can not be had anywhere else.

Some of the recipes I already know but there are many to be tried and named favorites.  My copy will have many food stains before the next owner clasps it to their hungry breast.  Now and then I plan to share my new favorites with Clarion Friends.  Charles Marlin

 

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brandeis[1]President Obama picked and the Senate confirmed his first and perhaps only Supreme Court appointee.  If luck is with BO and the nation his appointee will be of the quality and influence of Louis D. Brandeis.  If you want insight into the immediate and long-term good one lawyer/judge can achieve, you will have no better source than Melvin I. Urofsky, Louis D. Brandeis: A Life.

Before President Wilson appointed him to the Supreme Court, Brandeis had made himself “the people’s lawyer” by committing himself to progressive reform as in protecting women in the work force and in pioneering a new form of appellate brief that obligated judges to know the facts and lives involved in cases as well as the legal citations.  He created savings bank life insurance in Massachusetts.  He redefined the role of the lawyer as counselor and made important the role of pro bono publico work by attorneys.  He fought the business dominated courts when they treated labor as a commodity, and equated a lone worker as free to contract his labor to a large factory or railroad as though they were two neighboring farmers bartering labor for corn.  He was major in the creation of the Federal Reserve Act, the Clayton Antitrust Act, and the Federal Trade Commission.

In 1916 President Wilson nominated Brandeis for the Supreme Court and a six month down and dirty campaign followed fueled by business fear of losing the courts as their own playground and by cowardly anti-Semitism.  Once on the court he served for twenty-three years.  When he went on the Supreme Court the old classical jurisprudence controlled the decisions but that eventually gave way to a new jurisprudence of free speech, the doctrine of a constitutionally protected right to privacy, new administrative law, and the doctrine of incorporation whereby the Bill of Rights protection was extended to cover state law as well as Federal.  His dissenting opinions have over time become the law of the land.  He taught his brothers on the bench and the rest of the nation that the Constitution is a living document meant to change as the nation changes so that the original promises and freedoms are maintained for every citizen.

Brandeis was not an observant Jew but in response to the displacement of European Jews with the outbreak of WWI in 1914, he turned his organizing skills and national stature to the cause of Zionism.  He organized American Zionism as it had never been organized before, making it a force in American politics as well as a force in Europe.  When the problem of dual loyalties threatened the movement in America, Urofsky writes that Brandeis proposed, “Zionism did not require that Jews who lived in countries of freedom, such as the United States and Great Britain, make aliyah.  Rather, their obligation lay in political activism and fund-raising to create a Jewish homeland in Palestine to which Jews who lived in lands of oppression, such as Russia, could find haven.  While some younger Americans might want to go and be pioneers, no obligation existed for them to do so.  American Jewry, however, had the responsibility for making it possible for Jews in distress to make aliyah.”

For a brief survey of his life, you can go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Brandeis  If you want a good, long read then go to Urofsky’s new biography.  Only a comatose person would not know that Louis D. Brandeis is honored across America but I venture that he is little understood nor appreciated for the many good things he achieved.  Renew your faith in America.  Salute LDB.  Charles Marlin

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