Random Quotes

Theodore Roosevelt—“the Tom Sawyer of the political world of the twentieth century,” Clemens called him—had impetuously decided to abolish the motto “In God We Trust,” because coins “carried the name of God into improper places.” …It was a beautiful motto, Clemens said. “It is simple, direct, gracefully phrased; it sounds well—In God We Trust. I don’t believe it would sound any better if it were true.”….What the country trusted in was not God but “the Republican party and the dollar—mainly the dollar.” And as for the United States being a Christian country….Clemens said…“so is hell.” From Mr. Clemens and Mark Twain by Justin Kaplan

“The Russian Church…prohibited conjugal relations during Lent; …a counterpoise  to the tendency of the people to indulge excessively in almost the only pleasure left to them.”  From The Reformation by Will Durant

TV preacher on sending him your money—“It’s the circumcision of your financial life. It’s like cutting away the excess skin”  Blip from TV as I was channel surfing(God was leading me).

From Balkan Ghosts by Robert Kaplan: “…the carrion stench of old people.”

“Like any mistress, the West excites and fascinates us, but our relationship with it is episodic and superficial.”  (Concerning  Greece)

From Dark Star Safari by Paul Theroux: “…it is human nature to worship what we fear.    ….There is a point at which hysteria is indistinguishable from belief. ….                Christian missionaries have been peregrinating and proselytizing in Africa for upward of 1,400 years…

From The Iron Rooster by Paul Theroux– “The phlegmy, fruity laugh of the chain smoker.”

From Jude The Obscure: by Thomas Hardy,  “The wind dipped to earth and scooped straws and hay stems from the ground.”

From The Reformation: Will Durant  “…men prefer the assurance of dogma to the diffidence of reason.”…. “Our instincts were formed during a thousand centuries of insecurity and the chase; their once necessary vigor exceeds present social need; they must be checked a hundred times a day, consciously or not, to make society and civilization possible. Families and states, from ages before history, have enlisted the aid of religion to moderate the barbarous impulses of men.” Piers the Plowman by William Langland would “…weary any reader who lays upon authors the moral obligation to be clear.”….“…flays rascals impartially.” John Gower “…achieved dullness in three languages.”     “…three things are merciless when they get out of hand: water, fire, and the mob.” Of Chaucer, Durant writes, “…and living like a hermit in all but poverty, chastity, and obedience…” and “…a passion that runs to 8,386 lines becomes prose almost as rapidly as desire consummated.”  Durant wrote of Chaucer that,  “He was not a very learned man, for he liked to display his learning…”  “He mentions  some problems of philosophy and theology, but shrugs his shoulders at them helplessly. Perhaps he felt, like any man of the world, that a prudent philosopher will not wear his metaphysics on his sleeve.” Durant says Chaucer, “…is disturbed by evils apparently irreconcilable with an omnipotent benevolence…” In that regard, here is my rough translation of a line or two of Chaucer spoken through Arcite, one of the travelers in The Canterbury Tales—And what is mankind to you than sheep that huddle in the fold. For slain is man same as another beast and is arrested and dwells in prison, and has sickness and great adversity,…and when a beast is dead he has no pain, but man in his death must weep and plea to escape hell’s torment.

Sandra Day O’Conner—“Everyone is going to grow up to be a citizen, Democracy is not a spectator sport.”

 

 

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Byrd and Mountain Top Removal

An excerpt from Damn Yankee Buttons, a book of essays and short stories I am working on.

Near the end of his life, after a political career of supporting the coal industry, Byrd expressed misgivings about mountain top removal strip mining.

Byrd had denounced Judge Charles Haden, for his 1999 ruling against mountain top removal valley fills. But in May of 2009 Byrd said that “…. The industry of coal must also respect the land that yields the coal, as well as the people who live on the land. If the process of mining destroys nearby wells and foundations, if blasting and digging and relocating streams unearths harmful elements and releases them into the environment causing illness and death, that process should be halted and the resulting hazards to the community abated.”

In November, 2009, Byrd said that “The practice of mountaintop removal mining has a diminishing constituency in Washington. It is not a widespread method of mining, with its use confined to only three states. Most members of Congress, like most Americans, oppose the practice, and we may not yet fully understand the effects of mountaintop removal mining on the health of our citizens.

“In recent years, West Virginia has seen record high coal production and record low coal employment …The increased use of mountaintop removal mining means that fewer miners are needed to meet company production goals.

“West Virginians may demonstrate anger toward the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over mountaintop removal mining, but we risk the very probable consequence of shouting ourselves out of any productive dialogue with EPA and our adversaries in the Congress.

“Some have even suggested that coal state representatives in Washington should block any advancement of national health care reform legislation until the coal industry’s demands are met by the EPA. I believe that the notion of holding the health care of over 300 million Americans hostage in exchange for a handful of coal permits is beyond foolish; it is morally indefensible.  It is a non-starter, and puts the entire state of West Virginia and the coal industry in a terrible light.

“To be part of any solution, one must first acknowledge a problem. To deny the mounting science of climate change is to stick our heads in the sand and say “deal me out.” West Virginia would be much smarter to stay at the table.”

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Four Letter Words

An excerpt from Damn Yankee Buttons, a book of essays and short stories that I am working on:

Montaigne wrote that “The genital activities of mankind are so natural . . . what have they done to make us never dare to mention them without embarrassment and to exclude them from serious orderly conversation? We are not afraid to utter the words kill, thieve, or betray; but those others we only dare to mutter through our teeth.”

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Home Place Under Siege

An excerpt from my work in progress, Damned Yankee Buttons: Essays and Short Stories

Our home place is now under siege by a blight on the land. Bull Creek is empty of people, hardwood trees, ginseng, yellow root, and most all other native plant and animal species. The mountains above it have been strip mined. The rocks and dirt that used to be the mountain top have buried Bull Creek, along with my memories of Uncle Kin’s cabin and huckleberry picking.

Ashford ridge, running from Ashford to Bull Creek, is scalped by mountain top removal strip mining. Behind our home place and just over the mountain on Fork Creek, mountain top removal strip mining is closing in on us.

It is probably too much hope to expect that the mountain across the river that our cousins sold to a coal company, will not be destroyed like Ashford Ridge and Bull Creek.

When Truman and I are gone, I hope the heirs love the home place like we do and resist the coal companies when they come with offers of money, in exchange for Grandma’s farm.

I hope they follow the example of our progenitor Isaac Barker, when he told that man, named Skinner, who was buying up mineral rights on Coal River: You are Skinner by name and skinner by trade but you will not skin old Isaac Barker. Isaac spoke truth to power and refused to sell his mineral rights.

Coal River, what a portentous name. Sounds like it might eventually be burned, and take the whole world with it. Coal is a nasty substance, full of cancer causing compounds that once released by the magic of fire, distributes poisons throughout the earth. Coal blocks out the sun. It pours out carbon dioxide that holds in infrared radiation, a fancy name for heat. Smoke from black gold, burning in West Virginia, has sterilized lakes in New York and Canada. I tried to fish in one of those lakes in Ontario until I realized there were no fish or other wildlife in the water.

When coal’s original connections are altered, it lets go of the sunshine that created it millions of years ago. Plastic and steel and asphalt are made by rearranging the connections conjured up by giant ferns. The root of all evil keeps the process going, in spite of the suicidal side effects. Coal left alone isn’t nasty, but the love of money is a nasty, perverse, and abusive love.

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Homeplace under siege

An excerpt from Damn Yankee Buttons: Essays and Short Stories, a book I am writing

Our home place is now under siege by a blight on the land. Bull Creek is empty of people, hardwood trees, ginseng, yellow root, and most all other native plant and animal species. The mountains above it have been strip mined. The rocks and dirt that used to be the mountain top have buried Bull Creek, along with my memories of Uncle Kin’s cabin and huckleberry picking.

Ashford ridge running from Ashford to Bull Creek is scalped by mountain top removal strip mining. Behind our home place and just over the mountain on Fork Creek, mountain top removal strip mining is closing in on us.

It is probably too much hope to expect that the mountain across the river that our cousins sold to a coal company, won’t be destroyed like Ashford Ridge and Bull Creek.

When Truman and I are gone, I hope the heirs love the home place like we do and resist the coal companies when they come with offers of money, in exchange for Grandma’s farm.

I hope they follow the example of our progenitor Isaac Barker, when he told that man, named Skinner, who was buying up mineral rights on Coal River: “You are Skinner by name and skinner by trade but you will not skin old Isaac Barker.” Isaac spoke truth to power and refused to sell his mineral rights.

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Robert Byrd

An excerpt from Damn Yankee Buttons, A book of essays and short stories I am working on:

Near the end of his life, after a political career of supporting the coal industry, Senator Robert Byrd expressed misgivings about mountain top removal strip mining.

          Byrd had denounced Judge Charles Haden, for his 1999 ruling against mountain top removal valley fills. But in May of 2009 Byrd wrote that, “…. The industry of coal must also respect the land that yields the coal, as well as the people who live on the land. If the process of mining destroys nearby wells and foundations, if blasting and digging and relocating streams unearths harmful elements and releases them into the environment causing illness and death, that process should be halted and the resulting hazards to the community abated.”

In November, 2009, Byrd said that “The practice of mountaintop removal mining has a diminishing constituency in Washington. It is not a widespread method of mining, with its use confined to only three states. Most members of Congress, like most Americans, oppose the practice, and we may not yet fully understand the effects of mountaintop removal mining on the health of our citizens.

“In recent years, West Virginia has seen record high coal production and record low coal employment …The increased use of mountaintop removal mining means that fewer miners are needed to meet company production goals.

“West Virginians may demonstrate anger toward the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over mountaintop removal mining, but we risk the very probable consequence of shouting ourselves out of any productive dialogue with EPA and our adversaries in the Congress.

“Some have even suggested that coal state representatives in Washington should block any advancement of national health care reform legislation until the coal industry’s demands are met by the EPA. I believe that the notion of holding the health care of over 300 million Americans hostage in exchange for a handful of coal permits is beyond foolish; it is morally indefensible.  It is a non-starter, and puts the entire state of West Virginia and the coal industry in a terrible light.

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Some Favorite Quotes

A Few of My Favorite Quotes

 “They put their hand to the flinty rock, and overturn mountains by the roots. They cut out channels in the rocks, and their eyes see every precious thing. The sources of the rivers they probe; hidden things they bring to light. But where shall wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding?” Job 28:9-12

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, things aren’t going to get better, they’re not!” From the Lorax by Dr. Suess

 “You can accomplish a lot as long as you don’t care who gets credit.” Albert Schweitzer

A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead

 Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Martin Luther King

 “Progress isn’t worth the price you have to pay.” Eddie Gillenwater

“The love of money is the root of all evil.” Paul the Apostle

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” Upton Sinclair

“The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.” John Kenneth Galbraith

“Rats and roaches live by competition under the laws of supply and demand; it is the privilege of human beings to live under the laws of justice and mercy.” Wendell Berry

 “…I’ve frankly had to conclude that perhaps this state would be better off without the coal.” David Callaghan, former director of the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources.

 “…they have the nerve to tell us that they should be able to destroy our mountains because they have created jobs. Well, the Mafia creates jobs, the Colombian drug cartel creates jobs and pimps create jobs.” Denise Giardina

 “Do the best that you can, wherever you are, and be kind.” Scott Nearing

From Mr. Clemens and Mark Twain by Justin Kaplan…Theodore Roosevelt—“the Tom Sawyer of the political world of the twentieth century,” Clemens called him—had impetuously decided to abolish the motto “In God We Trust,” because coins “carried the name of God into improper places.” …It was a beautiful motto, Clemens said. “It is simple, direct, gracefully phrased; it sounds well—In God We Trust. I don’t believe it would sound any better if it were true.”….What the country trusted in was not God but “the Republican party and the dollar—mainly the dollar.” And as for the United States being a Christian country….Clemens said…“so is hell.”

 

 

 

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