When the Darkness Comes

(Another in the series of quotes to start the week. I’m considering doing a few of these by video, to see how that works….)

It seems fitting today to present quotations relating to eclipses, in recognition of the eclipse that will cross over the continental U.S. this afternoon. Without further ado …

William Wordsworth recorded his impression of an eclipse over Italy in Memorials of a Tour on the Continent. His poem opens,

High on her speculative tower
Stood Science waiting for the hour
When Sol was destined to endure
‘That’ darkening of his radiant face
Which Superstition strove to chase,
Erewhile, with rites impure


(Image from NASA video of 13 November 2012 eclipse, from Wikimedia Commons.)

A couple of stanzas later, he wrote,

No vapour stretched its wings; no cloud
Cast far or near a murky shroud;
The sky an azure field displayed;
‘Twas sunlight sheathed and gently charmed,
Of all its sparkling rays disarmed,
And as in slumber laid,

Wordsworth, then, had an unhindered view of the event. In contrast, I’m afraid the forecast calls for clouds where I will try to see the totality of the eclipse, but the weather is only one of many things out of my control. Hopefully the clouds will scatter at the right time.

Moving on, it seems apt to quote Victor Hugo from Les Miserables, given the rancorous discourse we’ve heard in our cities recently:

Nations, like stars, are entitled to eclipse. All is well, provided the light returns and the eclipse does not become endless night. Dawn and resurrection are synonymous. The reappearance of the light is the same as the survival of the soul.

In some respects, the struggle in our polity is a struggle for our national soul. Will we be a nation dedicated to a proposition, and specifically to the proposition that all men — all people — are created equal before God and before the law? Or will we be a nation that turns its back on that proposition?

Though in some respects it seems dark now, and cold, the light will dawn again. But whether what we experience is an eclipse — a brief interruption — or a long night, remains to be seen.

With that in mind, permit me to close with the first stanza of my as-yet-unrecorded song, “When the Darkness Comes” —

When the darkness comes, who will bring the light?
Who will run and hide? Who will stay and fight?
When the darkness comes, will we survive the night?
When the darkness comes, when the darkness comes

I hope you get a good view of the eclipse, and that the sun shines warm upon your face.

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P.S. I would be a poor self-publicist indeed if I didn’t use the occasion of the Moon blocking out the Sun to draw your attention to my lunar colonization novel, Walking On The Sea of Clouds. It’s available as an e-book on Amazon or as a trade paperback on Amazon, and in many other venues as well. Ask for it at your local bookstore! Thanks, GWR

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A Lesson I Forgot (New Video)

Following up on the effectiveness/efficiency episode from last week, here’s a bit about a lesson I re-learned recently: how to be a bit more efficient with office work …

I keep trying to do better!

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Related Videos:
Don’t Sacrifice Effectiveness for Efficiency
Just Doing Our Best
We Are All Unfinished Products

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An Old But Simple Prescription for a Better World

(Another in the series of quotes to start the week.)

Today’s quote comes from English novelist and playwright John Galsworthy (14 August 1867 – 31 January 1933), who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1932. In one volume of his “Forsyte Saga” series of novels, In Chancery, he included this:

I don’t know much about morality and that, but there is this: It’s always worth while before you do anything to consider whether it’s going to hurt another person more than is absolutely necessary.

That reminds me of a Heinlein quote from “The Notebooks of Lazarus Long,” as well as the “Silver Rule.” Where the Golden Rule is positive — “Do unto others what you would have them do unto you” — the Silver Rule (as I understand it) is similar but negative: “Do not unto others what you would not have them do unto you.”

A moral compass
(Image: “A moral compass,” by John LeMasney, on Flickr under Creative Commons.)

Sometimes we don’t intend to hurt others but we fail to foresee all the consequences of our actions. Sometimes causing a little bit of hurt seems necessary, as when a surgeon cuts a patient in order to remove diseased tissue. However, if we anticipate that the consequences of our actions will include hurting someone, then Galsworthy’s approach seems to me like a nice principle to apply. We might refrain, or so something different, if we think we may hurt them more than necessary.

Perhaps we can all give it a try, at least for this week.

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There Will Be War

(Another in the series of quotes to start the week.)

Today is U.S. science fiction author Jerry Pournelle’s birthday. Happy Birthday, Dr. Pournelle!

After winning the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 1973, Dr. Pournelle (PhD, political science) served as President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America for the 1973-74 term. He is perhaps best known for several bestselling collaborations with Larry Niven (including The Mote in God’s Eye and Footfall), and with Niven and Steven Barnes.

The subject of this post refers to a series of anthologies Dr. Pournelle edited in the 1980s, based on the axiom “There Will Be War.” The phrase is not a wish for war, but a recognition that we are a violent species living in an often violent and unfortunately limited world; and that we are unlikely now, in the near future, or over the long term to resolve our deepest differences for very long in any way short of war.

From the first of the “There Will Be War” anthologies, published in 1983 and recently reissued by Castalia House, we get this quote:

Historically, peace has only been bought by men of war. We may, in the future, be able to change that. It may be, as some say, that we have no choice. It may be that peace can and must be bought with some coin other than the blood of good soldiers; but there is no evidence to show that the day of jubilee has yet come….

History shows another strong trend: when soldiers have succeeded in eliminating war, or at least in keeping the battles far from home, small in scope, and confined largely to soldiers; when, in other words, they have done what one might have thought they were supposed to do; it is then that their masters generally despise them.

With respect to the first quoted paragraph, it is one thing to wish for peace, to hope for peace; everyone with whom I had the pleasure of serving did so. We did not want war, but we were determined to be ready for war and, if called upon, to do our duty in the crisis.

With respect to the second quoted paragraph, some people have despised the military for a long time; some have come more recently to despise those of us who served and those who still do. Perhaps not you, but perhaps someone known to you, whom the danger has not reached and who might not recognize it until it was upon them. Thus it has ever been, and thus it will ever be. Yet some of us still serve, knowing that not everyone who lives under the flag appreciates those who serve to defend the Republic for which it stands.


(Image: “Morning Salute,” on Wikimedia Commons.)

As for me: To all those still serving, I thank you, and salute you, and wish you peace. “There will be war” — but I pray it will not reach us for a long, long time.

I hope you have an excellent week.

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Being an “Exitpreneur” (New Video)

This might have been little more than an excuse to make up a new word….

How about you? How good are you at abandoning some ideas — especially good ideas — in order to concentrate on others?

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Related Videos:
We Are All Unfinished Products
Looking at Education as a System
Just Doing Our Best

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We Need Government, But Not Necessarily Governing

(Another in the series of quotes to start the week.)

Fantasy fans may be expecting a quote from the Harry Potter series this morning, since today is J.K. Rowling’s birthday; while that was tempting, I decided to take this in a different direction.

In addition to being Ms. Rowling’s birthday, today is also the birthday of US economist Milton Friedman (31 July 1912 – 16 November 2006). Friedman received the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1976, and is something of a hero to libertarians because he argued for smaller government and a freer economy. However, it’s important to note that Friedman understood the importance of government, as he said in 1973:

We need a government to maintain a system of courts that will uphold contracts and rule on compensation for damages. We need a government to ensure the safety of its citizens — to provide police protection. But government is failing at a lot of these things that it ought to be doing because it’s involved in so many things it shouldn’t be doing.

And in 1978 Friedman said:

We have to recognize that we must not hope for a Utopia that is unattainable. I would like to see a great deal less government activity than we have now, but I do not believe that we can have a situation in which we don’t need government at all.

The problem is that often government spends too much time and effort governing — that is, imposing requirements and restrictions on citizens as to what they must and must not do. If we as citizens need governing, it is only because we have failed to govern ourselves; and if we freely impose upon ourselves a government to rule us rather than to operate alongside us — if we accede to be governed in that way — then we will have admitted that liberty is too great a burden for us to bear.


(Image: “US Capitol at Dusk,” by Martin Falbisoner, on Wikimedia Commons.)

I prefer the idea of a government that governs itself well; that leaves the rest of us to govern ourselves as best we can; and that intervenes and interferes in our lives very little.

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And now, if you’ll permit me an aside on “This Day in History” … I was interested to read on the Internet (so of course that means it’s all true) that today marks three separate events in the US space program, each having to do with the Moon:
– In 1964, the Ranger 7 spacecraft sent back the first close-up photographs of the Moon;
– In 1971, Apollo 15 astronauts David R. Scott and James B. Irwin became the first to ride across the Moon’s surface in the lunar rover; and
– In 1999, NASA crashed the Lunar Prospector spacecraft into Shoemaker Crater at the lunar south pole.

I was interested in all of those things, of course, because last week my lunar colonization novel, Walking On The Sea of Clouds, was published. And not just that, but I mention the Lunar Prospector mission in the novel! It comes up as a group of colonists pass Shoemaker Crater on a journey to retrieve polar ice needed to keep the colony alive.

Walking On The Sea of Clouds is available as an e-book on Amazon or as a trade paperback on Amazon, or if you prefer it’s also available as an e-book from Kobo and Smashwords.

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Thanks, and have a great week!

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We Are All Unfinished Products … (New Video)

We haven’t had a breakthrough in my novel being available — hopefully we’ll get past the e-commerce roadblock today — so here’s a new video that considers the idea that we are never finished, but always in the process of “becoming,” as we move along the assembly line of life. And, unlike inanimate objects in a factory, we have a say in what we become.

What do you think? Where are you, and what are you becoming, on the assembly line of your life?

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Related Videos:
Looking at Education as a System
Just Doing Our Best
Every Student A Scholar?

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The True Joy in Life

(Another in the series of quotes to start the week.)

For many years now I’ve kept this passage from George Bernard Shaw in my collection of quotes:

This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.

I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community, and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.

I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no “brief candle” for me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.

Shaw’s birthday is this week: Wednesday, to be exact (26 July 1856 – 2 November 1950). Probably best known for his 1913 play Pygmalion, Shaw was the first person to receive both a Nobel Prize in Literature (in 1925) and an Academy Award (in 1938, for Best Adapted Screenplay … of Pygmalion).

That quote from Shaw convicts me, for I do not work as hard or as diligently as I ought. I am too often a “feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances.” I can work, I have worked — my novel, coming out on Shaw’s birthday, is proof at least of that capability — but I need to apply myself more fully to my work.


“Life is no ‘brief candle’ for me,” wrote George Bernard Shaw. (Image: “Candle Burning,” by Nanda93, on Wikimedia Commons.)

I hope I can do better, this week and onward, to find that “true joy in life” of believing that my purpose is “a mighty one” and that the work I do is meaningful and important — even if only to myself.

And I hope you find that true joy, as well.

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Every Student A Scholar? (New Video)

Talking about potential in this video, and specifically the idea that every student has the potential to be a scholar of something. The problem then is finding what it is the student is interested enough in to study in depth. Helping students find those topics of interest requires exposing them to a wide range of things, which is the nature of the “Musashi-Heinlein School” discussed in previous episodes.

What do you think? Can every student be a scholar, in something?

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Related Videos:
The Musashi-Heinlein School
Looking at Education as a System
Two-Dimensional Characters, and Education
The Dimensions of Sphericity

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