For a long time, years maybe, I regarded Jim as everybody else does. As the law. Someone with the potential to slow you down.
He’s managed the Transfer Station out here on the island of Georgetown, Maine, for more than 15 years. If it’s Wednesday, Saturday or Sunday the place is open, which means you must leave the bay on a dump run, and since the bay is beautiful, always, you hate to leave it even for a moment, so when you do, you bundle all the errands together and get after it. Summer days are precious commodities in Maine…
There is no such thing as an ordinary life. Inside of the dullest exterior there is a drama, a comedy and a tragedy.
If you are born in New Zealand you are born blessed, for the closest river to your place of birth becomes your river, the closest mountain, your mountain. The pull of your mountain, your maunga, is powerful, and hard to resist. But when you grow up fatherless at the end of the railroad you grow up wondering what lies at the other end of the line. So one night when still a boy I gathered…
Once I drank too much with a group of important clients. Somewhat over-refreshed, I staggered to my hotel room, threw off my clothes and collapsed on the bed. At 3am I was awakened by an urgent need to pee. I staggered to the bathroom door, opened it and as it clicked shut behind me, I realized it was not the bathroom door at all, but the door to my hotel room. Slowly the extent of my predicament dawned on me. I was standing stark naked in a hotel hallway, bathed in the brightest light, no ID, no room key, no…
AS IF TO DEMONSTRATE AN ECLIPSE
by Billy Collins
I pick an orange from a wicker basket
and place it on the table
to represent the sun.
Then down at the other end
a blue and white marble
becomes the earth
and nearby I lay the little moon of an aspirin.
I get a glass from a cabinet,
open a bottle of wine,
then I sit in a ladder-back chair,
a benevolent god presiding
over a miniature creation myth,
and I begin to sing a homemade canticle of thanks for this perfect little arrangement, for not making the earth too…
I’m writing this the weekend before election day. Over 90 million citizens have already voted. I see now that Biden is going to win the presidency. Trump is doomed. When your popularity rating is down around 43%, millions of people are not voting early on your behalf. Besides, no-one who held their nose and voted for Hillary is going to vote for him now — new voters will be additive to that tally, and enough to put Biden over the top.
At this point last time around, support for Hillary in key midwestern states was crumbling so fast the polls…
This morning a poem popped into my head. I have not read it for years, since college, maybe.
It’s just an old sonnet by Shelley.
It seemed so timely, so relevant, that I decided to share it.
No further comment…
Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822)
I met a traveller from an antique land Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone Stand in the desert . . . Near them, on the sand, Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown, And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command, Tell that its sculptor well those passions read Which yet…
1955. Jasper lives on the farm up the hill behind our house. We start school on the same day. I get told off for talking to him in class. The nun tells Jasper he’s a good boy, that it’s not his fault. It is going to be like this for a long time; me, unsettled, on the outside, him, effortless charm, cool before they call it that, getting away with murder
1965. Now that my father is dead, I am dispatched to boarding school. Jasper persuades his mother to have me at their place for lunch Sundays. His father is…
It’s a fact. In the end, most companies die. If you don’t believe me, look at the top 50 companies 25 years ago , and then look at the list from last year. Sure, product life cycles come and go, mergers and acquisitions happen all the time, but there’s no natural or market rationale for business extinction. Rather, companies do themselves in. Blinkered by their own success, with cultures characterized by hubris and self-certainty, they succumb to new competition or changing market dynamics that everybody else but them can see.
Take daily newspapers for example. For 50 years the holding…
On the morning of September 1, 1939 the engineer in charge of the British Broadcasting Corporation transmission towers at Alexandra Palace in London got up from his morning tea to answer the phone. On the line was the head of BBC Television himself. “You will switch off television service immediately,” he said. Neville Chamberlain, the British Prime Minister, declared war on Nazi Germany just two days later. Great Britain was preparing for war. If the towers were powered down they could not act as homing beacons for the Luftwaffe bombers everyone knew were coming.
As that call came in, the…
In ancient Greece there was an official called the “Remembrancer.” His job was to remind people of what they would have liked to forget. Usually he told them unpleasant tales of hubris and greed. Now that I’ve hit the age of 70, I like to think that’s my job, at least as far as the newspaper business is concerned, and I do it not merely to pile on, and not merely because there are good stories to be found there. No, I do it in the hope that lessons might perhaps be learned. …