Goodbye to Sue Grafton

The alphabet now ends with “Y”.

Mystery writer Sue Grafton has died in Santa Barbara, California. She was 77.

Grafton was the author of the Kinsey Millhone series, in which the title of each book begins with sequential letters of the alphabet. The first book is titled “A is for Alibi”, and the last is “Y is for Yesterday”.

Kinsey Millhone is one of my favorite mystery protagonists. I have often wondered what Grafton would do for titles after “Z”. Now, we will never know.

QOTD

A man who lies to himself, and believes his own lies, becomes unable to recognize truth, either in himself or in anyone else, and he ends up losing respect for himself and for others. When he has no respect for anyone, he can no longer love, and in him, he yields to his impulses, indulges in the lowest form of pleasure, and behaves in the end like an animal in satisfying his vices. And it all comes from lying — to others and to yourself.

–Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

QOTD

“He said, ‘Oh God, help her. Damn me, I deserve it, but let her live forever.’ This was the love he should have felt for every soul in the world: all the fear and the wish to save concentrated unjustly on the one child. He began to weep…. He thought: This is what I should feel all the time for everyone.”

― Graham Greene, The Power and the Glory

Goodbye to Jerry Pournelle

Jerry Pournelle, a Shreveport native, science fiction author, and columnist, died yesterday at the age of 84. He was widely acknowledged as the first author to publish fiction written on a personal computer.

Pournelle wrote a wealth of science fiction, mostly with a military bent. Two of my favorites were written with David Niven–The Mote in God’s Eye and Lucifer’s Hammer.

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A little Virgil for your Friday

‘O socii—neque enim ignari sumus ante malorum—
O passi graviora, dabit deus his quoque finem.
Vos et Scyllaeam rabiem penitusque sonantis
accestis scopulos, vos et Cyclopea saxa
experti: revocate animos, maestumque timorem
mittite: forsan et haec olim meminisse iuvabit.
Per varios casus, per tot discrimina rerum
tendimus in Latium; sedes ubi fata quietas
ostendunt; illic fas regna resurgere Troiae.
Durate, et vosmet rebus servate secundis.’

“O comrades–for we are not unknowing of prior ills–O you having suffered burdens, the god will give to these things an end. You have approached raging Scylla and within the sounding crags, you have come forth from the Cyclopean rocks: call back your spirits, and send off this mournful trembling. Perhaps to recall even these things will one day be pleasing. Through varied fortunes, through so many crises of state, we hold towards Latium, where the fates show tranquil seats; thither it is right to raise up the Trojan kingdoms. Harden yourselves, and save yourselves with things to come.”

The Aeneid, Book 1

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Something to ponder on a Wednesday afternoon

Natural Theology–Rudyard Kipling

Primitive

I ate my fill of a whale that died
And stranded after a month at sea. . . .
There is a pain in my inside.
Why have the Gods afflicted me?
Ow! I am purged till I am a wraith!
Wow! I am sick till I cannot see!
What is the sense of Religion and Faith :
Look how the Gods have afflicted me!

Pagan

How can the skin of rat or mouse hold
Anything more than a harmless flea?. . .
The burning plague has taken my household.
Why have my Gods afflicted me?
All my kith and kin are deceased,
Though they were as good as good could be,
I will out and batter the family priest,
Because my Gods have afflicted me!

Medi/Eval

My privy and well drain into each other
After the custom of Christendie. . . .
Fevers and fluxes are wasting my mother.
Why has the Lord afflicted me?
The Saints are helpless for all I offer–
So are the clergy I used to fee.
Henceforward I keep my cash in my coffer,
Because the Lord has afflicted me.

Material

I run eight hundred hens to the acre
They die by dozens mysteriously. . . .
I am more than doubtful concerning my Maker,
Why has the Lord afflicted me?
What a return for all my endeavour–
Not to mention the L. S. D!
I am an atheist now and for ever,
Because this God has afflicted me!

Progressive

Money spent on an Army or Fleet
Is homicidal lunacy. . . .
My son has been killed in the Mons retreat,
Why is the Lord afflicting me?
Why are murder, pillage and arson
And rape allowed by the Deity?
I will write to the Times, deriding our parson
Because my God has afflicted me.

Chorus

We had a kettle: we let it leak:
Our not repairing it made it worse.
We haven’t had any tea for a week. . .
The bottom is out of the Universe!

Conclusion

This was none of the good Lord’s pleasure,
For the Spirit He breathed in Man is free;
But what comes after is measure for measure,
And not a God that afflicteth thee.
As was the sowing so the reaping
Is now and evermore shall be.
Thou art delivered to thine own keeping.
Only Thyself hath afflicted thee!

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QOTD

There is a wisdom that is woe; but there is a woe that is madness. And there is a Catskill eagle in some souls that can alike dive down into the blackest gorges, and soar out of them again and become invisible in the sunny spaces. And even if he for ever flies within the gorge, that gorge is in the mountains; so that even in his lowest swoop the mountain eagle is still higher than other birds upon the plain, even though they soar.

–Herman Melville, Moby Dick

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Your afternoon Kipling

The ‘eathen in ‘is blindness bows down to wood an’ stone;
‘E don’t obey no orders unless they is ‘is own;
‘E keeps ‘is side-arms awful: ‘e leaves ’em all about,
An’ then comes up the regiment an’ pokes the ‘eathen out.

All along o’ dirtiness, all along o’ mess,
All along o’ doin’ things rather-more-or-less,
All along of abby-nay, kul, an’ hazar-ho, *
Mind you keep your rifle an’ yourself jus’ so!

* abby-nay: Not now. kul: To-morrow. hazar-ho: Wait a bit.

The young recruit is ‘aughty — ‘e draf’s from Gawd knows where;
They bid ‘im show ‘is stockin’s an’ lay ‘is mattress square;
‘E calls it bloomin’ nonsense — ‘e doesn’t know no more —
An’ then up comes ‘is Company an’ kicks ‘im round the floor!

The young recruit is ‘ammered — ‘e takes it very ‘ard;
‘E ‘angs ‘is ‘ead an’ mutters — ‘e sulks about the yard;
‘E talks o’ “cruel tyrants” ‘e’ll swing for by-an’-by,
An’ the others ‘ears an’ mocks ‘im, an’ the boy goes orf to cry.

The young recruit is silly — ‘e thinks o’ suicide;
‘E’s lost ‘is gutter-devil; ‘e ‘asn’t got ‘is pride;
But day by day they kicks ‘im, which ‘elps ‘im on a bit,
Till ‘e finds ‘isself one mornin’ with a full an’ proper kit.

Gettin’ clear o’ dirtiness, gettin’ done with mess,
Gettin’ shut o’ doin’ things rather-more-or-less;
Not so fond of abby-nay, kul, nor hazar-ho,
Learns to keep ‘is rifle an’ ‘isself jus’ so!

The young recruit is ‘appy — ‘e throws a chest to suit;
You see ‘im grow mustaches; you ‘ear ‘im slap ‘is boot;
‘E learns to drop the “bloodies” from every word ‘e slings,
An’ ‘e shows an ‘ealthy brisket when ‘e strips for bars an’ rings.

The cruel-tyrant-sergeants they watch ‘im ‘arf a year;
They watch ‘im with ‘is comrades, they watch ‘im with ‘is beer;
They watch ‘im with the women at the regimental dance,
And the cruel-tyrant-sergeants send ‘is name along for “Lance”.

An’ now ‘e’s ‘arf o’ nothin’, an’ all a private yet,
‘Is room they up an’ rags ‘im to see what they will get;
They rags ‘im low an’ cunnin’, each dirty trick they can,
But ‘e learns to sweat ‘is temper an’ ‘e learns to sweat ‘is man.

An’, last, a Colour-Sergeant, as such to be obeyed,
‘E schools ‘is men at cricket, ‘e tells ’em on parade;
They sees ’em quick an’ ‘andy, uncommon set an’ smart,
An’ so ‘e talks to orficers which ‘ave the Core at ‘eart.

‘E learns to do ‘is watchin’ without it showin’ plain;
‘E learns to save a dummy, an’ shove ‘im straight again;
‘E learns to check a ranker that’s buyin’ leave to shirk;
An’ ‘e learns to make men like ‘im so they’ll learn to like their work.

An’ when it comes to marchin’ he’ll see their socks are right,
An’ when it comes to action ‘e shows ’em ‘ow to sight;
‘E knows their ways of thinkin’ and just what’s in their mind;
‘E knows when they are takin’ on an’ when they’ve fell be’ind.

‘E knows each talkin’ corpril that leads a squad astray;
‘E feels ‘is innards ‘eavin’, ‘is bowels givin’ way;
‘E sees the blue-white faces all tryin’ ‘ard to grin,
An’ ‘e stands an’ waits an’ suffers till it’s time to cap ’em in.

An’ now the hugly bullets come peckin’ through the dust,
An’ no one wants to face ’em, but every beggar must;
So, like a man in irons which isn’t glad to go,
They moves ’em off by companies uncommon stiff an’ slow.

Of all ‘is five years’ schoolin’ they don’t remember much
Excep’ the not retreatin’, the step an’ keepin’ touch.
It looks like teachin’ wasted when they duck an’ spread an’ ‘op,
But if ‘e ‘adn’t learned ’em they’d be all about the shop!

An’ now it’s “‘Oo goes backward?” an’ now it’s “‘Oo comes on?”
And now it’s “Get the doolies,” an’ now the captain’s gone;
An’ now it’s bloody murder, but all the while they ‘ear
‘Is voice, the same as barrick drill, a-shepherdin’ the rear.

‘E’s just as sick as they are, ‘is ‘eart is like to split,
But ‘e works ’em, works ’em, works ’em till he feels ’em take the bit;
The rest is ‘oldin’ steady till the watchful bugles play,
An’ ‘e lifts ’em, lifts ’em, lifts ’em through the charge that wins the day!

The ‘eathen in ‘is blindness bows down to wood an’ stone;
‘E don’t obey no orders unless they is ‘is own;
The ‘eathen in ‘is blindness must end where ‘e began,
But the backbone of the Army is the non-commissioned man!

Keep away from dirtiness — keep away from mess.
Don’t get into doin’ things rather-more-or-less!
Let’s ha’ done with abby-nay, kul, an’ hazar-ho;
Mind you keep your rifle an’ yourself jus’ so!

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Johnny Cash – The Cremation Of Sam McGee

There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.

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Bob Dylan winner of 2016 Nobel Prize in literature

Bob Dylan has another award to add to his long list of achievements.

The singer was named the winner of the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature Thursday in a stunning announcement that for the first time bestowed the prestigious award to someone primarily seen as a musician.

The times, they are a-changin’.

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