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December 3, 2018

My top 10 songs from the '60s

In alphabetical order:

96 Tears — ? and the Mysterians (1966)

California Girls — Beach Boys (1965)

Dirty Water — Standells (1966)

I Got You Babe — Sonny & Cher (1965)

I'm Alive — The Hollies (1965)

Liar Liar — The Castaways (1965)

Magic Bus — The Who (1968)

Soul Man — Sam & Dave (1967)

Spirit In The Sky — Norman Greenbaum (1969)

Surfin' Bird — Trashmen (1963)

December 3, 2018 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)

The Mysterious Stranger — Mark Twain


His final novel, it was written during his sixties and early seventies and took twelve years — and three drafts — to complete, remaining unpublished at the time of his death in 1910.

The book is set in medieval Austria at the dawn of the age of printing.

In it, a penniless printer's apprentice — a youthful mysterious stranger with the name 44 — slowly unveils his otherworldly powers.

Sci-fi as only Mark Twain could do it.

Excerpts below.


"What is your name?" "Number 44, New Series 864,962."

I inquired about some of the refreshments that had outlandish names. Again that weird detail: they were non-existent as yet, they were products of the unborn future! Understand it? How could I? Nobody could. The mere trying muddled the head. And yet it was a pleasure to turn those names over on the tongue and taste them: Corn-pone! Arkansas! Alabama! Prairie! Coffee! Saccharin! Fourty-four answered my thought with a stingy word of explanation — "Corn-pone is made from maize. Maize is known only in America. America is not discovered yet. Arkansas and Alabama will be States, and will get their names two or three centuries hence. Prairie — a future French-American term for a meadow like an ocean. Coffee: they have it in the Orient, they will have it here in Austria two centuries from now. Saccharin — concentrated sugar, 500 to 1; as it were, the sweetness of five hundred pretty maids concentrated in a young fellow's sweetheart. Saccharin is not due yet for nearly four hundred years; I am furnishing you several advance privileges, you see."

With my race it is different; we have no limits of any kind, we comprehend all things. You see, for your race there is such a thing as time — you cut it up and measure it; to your race there is a past, a present and a future — of one and the same thing you make three; and to your race there is also such a thing as distance – and hang it, you measure that, too!... Let me see: if I could only... if I... oh, no, it is of no use — there is no such thing as enlightening that kind of a mind!" He turned upon me despairingly, pathetically, adding, "If it only had somecapacity, some depth, or breadth, or — or — but you see it doesn't holdanything; one cannot pour the starred and shoreless expanses of the universe into a jug!"

"Well, it is so difficult! If I only had a staring-point, a basis to proceed from — but I can't find any. If — look here: can't you extinguish time?<can't< i="">you comprehend eternity? can't you conceive of a thing like that — a thing with no beginnning — a thing that always was? Try it!"</can't<>

"Look here: there are really no divisions of time — none at all. The past is always present when I want it — the real past, not an image of it; I can summon it out of the unborn ages, and there it is, before my eyes, alive and real, not a fancy, an image, a creation of the imagination. Ah, these troublesome limitations of yours! — they hamper me. Your race cannot even conceive of something being made out of nothing — I am aware of it, your learned men and philosophers are always confessing it. They say there had to be something to start with — meaning a solid, a substance — to build the world out of. Man, it is perfectly simple — it was built out of thought. Can't you comprehend that?"

"All things that exist were made out of thought — and out of nothing else."

"What are ten years, subtracted from ten billion years? It is the ten-thousandth part of a second — that is to say, it is nothing at all."

Where I come from we have a gift of which we get tired of, now and then. We foresee everything that is going to happen, and so when it happens there's nothing to it, don't you see? we don't get any surprises. We can't shut down the prophecy-works there, but we can here. That is one of the main reasons I come here so much. I do love surprises!

"Nothing exists; all is a dream. God — man — the world, — the sun, the moon, the wilderness of stars: a dream, all a dream, they have no existence. Nothing exists save empty space – and you! And you are not you — you have no body, no blood, no bones, you are but a thought."

"It is true, that which I have revealed to you: there is no God, no universe, no human race, no earthly life, no heaven, no hell. It is all a Dream, a grotesque and foolish dream. Nothing exists but You. And You are but a Thought — a vagrant Thought, a useless Thought, a homeless Thought, wandering forlorn among empty eternities!"


Because you stayed with it all the way to the end, you get to read it free, the way we like it.

December 3, 2018 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

"With email, the greatest power you have is in not replying" — Susie Boyt


The observation in the headline above, which appeared toward the end of one of her Financial Times columns, in regards to her policy of not giving advice, stopped me in my tracks.

Yes, she is right, but there is a catch: oftimes it's exceedingly difficult not to reply, sometimes nearly impossible.

Because by not replying you have to imagine what the other party is thinking and no matter how well you think you know someone you can never be sure.

Meanwhile the sender of the email to which you don't reply waits and stews and frets, wondering if they've offended you or somehow said the wrong thing.

Dr. Maxwell Maltz, whom I'd bet Ms. Boyt has never heard of, was nearly sixty years ahead of his time when he wrote, in his once very popular 1960 book, "Psychocybernetics," "The best response is no response."

December 3, 2018 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

What is it?


Answer here this time tomorrow.

Hint: smaller than a bread box.

Another: no moving parts.

A third: stainless steel.

Bonus clue: made in Buffalo, New York.

December 3, 2018 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

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