Friday, April 2, 2021

Breathing Consciously

 The most useful and easiest health practice I know of is breathing.  At the beginning of these COVID times I began to explore it a little more and took a free breath training course at

There I learned of a simple rhythm of inhaling through the nose and exhaling, twice as long as the inhale, through either nose or mouth, and that doing this relaxes the vagus nerve, the longest nerve in the body and the rest of the nervous system.  The people who do this consciously a few minutes a day probably receive health benefits from it and can use it for first aid after an injury or shock.

Breatheology:  The Art of Conscious Breathing (Breatheology, 2010 came with the course and is an introduction to pranayama, the ancient Hindu breathing practices.

Here’s what the book recommends for breathing and pain relief:

1) Gently breathe out and focus on the sore or painful area, while one hand (yours or someone else’s) touches the area. In this way you achieve maximum awareness and can loosen up e.g. cramped muscles in the neck or shoulders. When you consciously “let go” of the area through nerve impulses from the brain, the muscles release their cramped condition. You can clearly feel the muscle “letting go” – like when you stretch a tense calf after a long run.

2) Gently breathe out and focus your consciousness on your breath. Press your lips together or hold the air back with your tongue to produce a “pseeeee” sound when you breathe out. Now visualize the place where you experienced pain, and imagine that the area heals more and more for each exhalation. Feel the heat spreading in precisely the areas that you focus on. This exercise can easily take 5-10 minutes.

3) Try hyperventilating energetically with 10-20 breaths. This breathing pattern often occurs spontaneously in laboring women and in people who experience sudden pain. Readily produce an audible sound and concentrate solely on the breathing mechanism. An intense hyperventilation will lead to many temporary changes in your body – your blood pressure will rise, your heart will work faster, the acidity of your blood will change and you will secrete a lot of adrenalin, which “prepares you for battle”. With all these distractions, you are bound to redirect your focus from the pain. It will become secondary to the many other changes that occur in your body.

4) Do 10 hook breaths by pushing the diaphragm and chest down after a full inhalation. You probably use hook breathing spontaneously when you lift something heavy. This is also used by laboring women. In this way you create a higher oxygen tension in your lungs, which will lead to a greater oxygen concentration in the blood. Apart from temporarily changing your oxygen tension and blood pressure, it will also stimulate your nerves and create a kind of relaxation afterwards.

5) Take a walk in a forest, find a deserted beach or lie down under your comforter. Scream at the top of your lungs. Do it 5-10 times. This will loosen up physical and mental tension, frustration and pain. By freeing yourself and stimulating your lungs, diaphragm, solar plexus and the rest of your nervous system, you create a soothing and refreshing sensation throughout your body. This is also a good exercise to use when you have stress.

6) Breathe calmly – use Victorious Breath*, if you like. Make your exhalation twice as long as your inhalation as in the simple pranayama exercises, as this will have a strong stimulatory effect on your vagus nerve and thus the entire soothing part of the nervous system. At the same time, try to “enter” the pain. Examine it and accept it. In time you will become so eager to “investigate” your pain that it will disappear completely.

7) Breathe calmly using the Victorious breath and take as much time as you can breathing out. Exhale through the mouth instead of the nose, and produce a deep and soft “hmmmmmmmm” sound. You can also make it sharper and higher “heeeeeee”, if you feel like it. The sound should be as smooth and melodic as possible. This is a pranayama exer- cise and is called bhramari. In Sanskrit bhramara means “bumblebee”, so this is the sound you should try to imitate. The exercise creates a lot of vibrations throughout your body and vitalizes your cells with a micro-massage. Apart from cleansing your cells and your nervous sys- tem, bhramari is also a formidable relaxation and concentration exer- cise that is good for insomnia. Alternatively, use the sacred mantra Om (pronounced “AAAAUUUMMMMMM”). This mantra is sure to make you feel the vitalizing vibrations in your entire body, at first in your chest and then your throat, jaws and your head. Besides oxygenating your lungs and having a relaxing and de-stressing effect, it will prepare you men- tally to accept and cope with your pain.

8) Perform the exercise Paradise and use all your senses to experience the place as intensely as possible. Expand the exercise by observing yourself moving around in your paradise, light as a feather and without any tension or pain. Make sure your breath is as smooth and effortless as your weightless walk. In time, you will also be able to lower the sen- sitivity in the area of the brain where pain impressions are processed, whereby the discomfort seems less severe.

The exercise is extremely simple: When you inhale, make a little constriction in your throat to produce an even hissing sound. I believe you can describe the sound as being a bit “dry” - almost like a whisper. If you say “ngg” when you inhale, I am quite sure that you are on track. The entire sound is somewhat like “nggeeeeeeeh”. Try bringing your breath to a halt several times during the same breath – that is says “ngg”, “ngg”, “ngg” – then you will soon sense which part of the throat to move. Remember to keep the rest of your head and face completely relaxed. When you exhale, you can produce the sound “uee”. The entire sound is “uee – hhhhh”. When you learn to control where and how to constrict the throat, you can leave out the “ngg” and “uee” and just let the breath flow to the sounds of “eeeeeeehhh” during inhalation and “hhhhhhh- heee” during exhalation.

The sound you are hearing is an amplified version of the sound that occurs naturally when you breathe. According to the ancient scriptures, this sound is a kind of repeating prayer – a mantra that sounds like “so- ham”. The key to Victorious Breath is the slight constriction in the throat, since this enables you to completely control the flow of air. By varying the degree of constriction in the throat, you can determine the amount of air that enters (or exits) and its velocity. It is the key to your perfect breath, and no other exercise is higher, stronger or more effective than Victorious Breath. You can perform it anywhere, standing, walking, lying down, running or swimming. Apart from the altogether calming effect, Victorious Breath is also useful to people who suffer stress, depression and asthma. Victorious Breath is applied to all asanas and as a fundamental element of many other pranayama exercises.


May this information be of use.

Monday, March 1, 2021

Richard Gregg's The Power of Nonviolence

The Power of Nonviolence by Richard Gregg (NY:  Schocken Books, 1935, 1959) was recommended by Martin Luther King Jr.  I have read some Gandhi, most deeply on Gandhian economics (, and know about other nonviolent leaders like Abdul Ghaffar Khan ( Gregg's book includes more examples of effective nonviolence.  It taught me a lot.


(15-16)  Hungarian successful nonviolent resistance to Austria by Ferenc Deak ending with a new constitution in February 1867 

(29)  Late in 1940 the Nazis displayed the swastika emblem from a Danish public building.  According to a report in The New York Times, “the monarch protested that the act was contrary to the occupation agreement and demanded that the flag be removed.  The German military officials refused.  ‘I will send a soldier to remove it,’ the king replied, or so the story ran.  He was informed the soldier would be shot.  ‘I am the soldier,’ he retorted, and the Nazi flag was lowered.”

… When the Germans tried to compel the Danes to adopt the Nürnberg laws against the Jews, the Danes refused,  When the Germans ordered that all Danish Jews should wear a yellow star and that a Jewish ghetto would be established, King Christian announced that if this were done he would be pleased to move from his palace to such a ghetto and, accorded to and Associated Press dispatch of October 11, 1942, said, “If the Germans want to put the yellow Jewish star in Denmark, I and my whole family will wear it as a sign of the highest distinction.”  He attended in full uniform a special celebration in a Copenhagen synagogue.  All over Denmark opposition to the German plans of repression arose.
NB:   The Danes evacuated 7,220 of Denmark's 7,800 Jews, plus 686 non-Jewish spouses, to neutral Sweden before the Nazis could round them up.

(31)  Haaken Holmboe, Norwegian teacher who helped organize teachers’ nonviolent resistance in Quisling’s Norway
Editorial Comment:  Norwegian teachers refused to teach Quisling's new curriculum.  Hundreds were jailed and sent to concentrations camps to do forced labor.  They held out for a year and returned to teaching while Quisling's Nazi curriculum was dropped.

(35)  This Norwegian nonviolent resistance was possible because all the people were self-respecting, self-reliant, self-confident, courageous, filled with a spirit of unity, independence and liberty, and felt urgently and steadily that they had to resist somehow.  It was unpremeditated and spontaneous.

(38)  The transportation committee [in Montgomery, AL] first organized a Negro taxi service but this was blocked by an existing law which required a minimum fare of 45 cents for any taxi ride.  Then a car-pool was formed and later was added to by station wagons bought and oeprated for the purpose by several of the Negro churches and by other contributors.
NB:  possibiity of swadeshi, reminder of credit pooling by original Populists

(39)  The insurance companies were pressured into canceling the insurance on Negro cars.  But this attack was defeated by getting insurance from Lloyds of London

(40)  The city [Montgomery, Alabama] brought suit in November 1959 to enjoin the operation of the Negro car pool.  The petition was directed against the Montgomery Improvement Association and several Negro churches and individuals.

(50)  Christ, searching for a change in men more profound and important than immediate external acts, told them to get rid of anger and greed, knowing, I believe, that if this took place, war would disappear.

Courageous violence, to try to prevent or stop a wrong, is better than cowardly acquiescence.  Cowardice is more harmful morally than violence.

(51)  The nonviolent resister seeks a solution under which both parties can have complete self-respect and mutual respect, a settlement that will implement the new desires and full energies of both parties.  The nonviolent resister seeks to help the violent attacker to re-establish his moral balance on a level higher and more secure than that from which he first launched his violent action.  The function of the nonviolent type of resistance is not to harm the opponent nor impose a solution against his will, but to help both parties into a more secure, relative, happy, and truthful relationship.

(55)  … in nonviolent resistance, both anger and fear are controlled.

(61)  William Alanson White:  “It follows, too, that no conflict can be solved at the level of conflict.  That is, two mutually opposed tendencies can never unite their forces except at a higher level, in an all inclusive synthesis which lifts the whole situation to a level above that upon which the conflict rose.”

(62)  Peace imposed by violence is not psychological peace but a suppressed conflict.  It is unstable, for it contains the seeds of its own destruction.  The outer condition is not a true reflection of the inner condition.  But in peace secured by true nonviolent resistance there is no longer any inner conflict;  a new channel is found, in which both the formerly conflicting energies are at work in the same direction and in harmony.

(63)  So love is a great principle in moral dynamics.  It does not suppress to thwart the energy behind fear and anger but uses it, and finds way to steer it into channels desirable to both parties to the conflict.  

(66)  Fear and anger are closely allied.  They have the same origin or purpose:  to separate a person from a living creature, force or situation considered by the person to be painful, threatening or dangerous to his comfort or well-being, the easy action of his instincts or his very existence.  If the person feels that he is stronger than the threatening force or situation, the emotion is anger, while if he estimates the danger as stronger than himself (including his skill), the emotion is fear.

…  Hate is a sort of deferred or thwarted anger.

(67)  We know that the elemental instinct of flight and its corresponding emotion, fear, can be controlled and disciplined by military training.
NB:  fight, flight, or freeze

… The new discipline probably is more quantitatively more difficult, because it involved control of both fear and anger, but it is not qualitatively or intrinsically more difficult, because both these emotions are similar in origin and in ultimate purpose, namely, human-preservation through individual self-preservation.

(71)  Violence is based upon fear and anger and uses them to the utmost.  We have seen that these two emotions are based on the idea of separation, of division.  Nonviolent resistance, on the other hand, is based upon the idea of unity.  The hypothesis of nonviolent resisters is that the strongest factor in human beings, in the long run, is their unity - that they have more in common as  a human family than as separate individuals.

(72)  War seeks to demoralize the opponent, to break a will, to destroy his confidence, enthusiasm and hope.  Nonviolent resistance demoralizes the opponent only to re-establish in him a new morale that is finer because it is based on sounder values.  Nonviolent resistance does not break the opponent’s will but alters it;  does not destroy his confidence, enthusiasm and hope but transfers them to a finer purpose.

(74)  Frederick the Great wrote, “If my soldiers began to think, not one would remain in the ranks.”  As soon as a soldier begins to think of certain sorts of things, he begins to be an individual, to separate himself from the mass mind, the will and personality of the army.  If, then, the soldier is made to think for himself in the midst of a conflict, a start has been made toward the disintegration of his morale.
NB:  The key is eye to eye contact, Auschwitz satyagraha, death march survivor, cops and a bathroom mirror during a Tompkins Square Park homeless riot... and other examples

(75)  The Duke of Wellington put it forcefully:  “No man with any scruples of conscience is fit to be a soldier.”  One of the most important elements in a soldier’s morale, as Hocking has indicated, is his consciousness of being a protector.  If he is deprived of that, he feels useless and perhaps a little absurd.

…Inaction is notoriously hard on a soldier’s morale.

(78)  In nonviolent resistance the suffering is itself a weapon or means of winning.
NB:  less suffering than determination, I believe

(86)  In quality a victory by nonviolent resistance is far more gallant and joyous than one by violence can ever be.  It requires no lying, distortion or suprression of the truth, no slaughter or threats.  It leaves no bad conscience or bad taste in the mouth.  The public opinion it gains is weighty and lasting.

Still another way in which mass nonviolent resistance operates is to end and clear away social defects, economic mistakes and political errors.  The semi-military discipline of the resisters, the getting rid of bad habits, the learning to struggle without anger, the social unity developed, the emphasis on moral factors, the appeal to the finest spirit of the opponents and onlookers, the generosity and kindness required - all these constitute a social purification, a creation of truer values and actions among all concerned.

(87)  When truth is more nearly approximated in action there is a tremendous gain in strength as well as a liberation.

(89)  Ghana, the new member of the British Commonwealth in West Africa, won its freedom in 1957 after a ten-year nonviolent struggle.  Its leader, Kwame Nkrumah, in his autobiography says explicitly that the campaign for freedom was “based on the principle of absolute nonviolence as used by Gandhi in India,” and “We repudiate war and violence."

(95-96)  Clausewitz’s principles of war have been summarized by a British writer [AA Walser]:  “Retaining the initiative, using the defensive form of action, concentration of force at the decisive point, the determination of that point, the superiority of the moral factor to purely material resources, the proper relation between attack and defense, and the will to victory.”

(97)  But psychologically, nonviolent resistance differs in one respect from war.  The object is not to make the opponent believe that he is crushed but to persuade him to realize that he can attain practical security, or whatever else his ultimate desire may be, by easier and surer means than he saw formerly.  The effort is furthermore to help him work out such new means, not rigidly or on any a priori plan, but flexibly in accordance with the deepest growing truth of the entire situation in all its bearings.  Nonviolence does not destroy the opponent’s courage, but merely alters his belief that his will and desire must be satisfied only in _his_ way.  Thus he is led to see the situation in a broader, more fundamental and far-sighted way, so as to work out a solution which will more nearly satisfy both parties in the light of a new set of conditions.

(103-104)  The nonviolent resister believes that a large part of the activities that the state are founded upon [is] a mistake, namely, the idea that fear is the strongest and best sanction for group action and association.

(104-105)  The struggle is fundamentally in the realm of ideas and moral principles, as Napoleon and other military writers have pointed out.  Since it is axiomatic among all warriors that the best form of defense is to attack, then the most efficient attack is not in the realm of material weapons but in the realm of ideas, feelings and moral principles.  I do not mean mere argument, though that is important, but still more by putting fine moral principles into action, by being strictly honest and candid with oneself as well as one’s opponents, admitting one’s past mistakes, first, unilaterally (every one of us has made mistakes), respecting one’s opponents and showing it in deeds, being willing to yield something - even something big and valuable, provided it is not a principle - being kind and generous to the opponents, stopping all threats and harsh holding-fast to the right.  This will be very difficult, a very high price to pay for peace.  But with all the load of past moral mistakes everywhere, we cannot have peace unless we are willing to pay a high price.

(105)  Peace, on the other hand, is not an institution.  Like happiness and liberty, it cannot be had by direct effort.  It is an indirect byproduct of other conditions, chief of which are mutual trust and a strong sense of the unity of mankind and its overriding importance.  Trust, in turn, grows out of deeds that reveal continuing intelligence, good will and desire to cooperate and promote the common welfare.  These underlying attitudes can be stimulated to grow.  Their growth can be begun unilaterally.  It is upon their developoment and growth that effort should be concentrated.  Once they are strong and permanent, peace will come automatically,

(107)  The advantages of nonviolent resistance is that it begins at home and can and needs to be practiced in all the small private relations bretween people as a preparation for and accompaniment of its use on a large scale.  Nobody can dodge the responsibility for its success.  The poorest and most insignificant can practice it as finely, successfully and usefully as prime ministers, presidents, financiers, labor leaders or other powerful persons.  Through nonviolent resistance we can reach an active, reasoned belief in the conditions that result in peace, conditions capable of continuous practice in all grades of life and all sorts of conflict, so as to educate everyone into a conviction that they give better results, more efficiently, than violence.

(122)  In conflict, what needs to be done is to change not people as such, but their attachment to certain ideas, sentiments, desires, and assumptions.  Such changes are not effected by killing or wounding the opponents.

(123)  In the persuasion of nonviolent resistance, there must be not only gentleness and love but also truth.  All human beings make mistakes.  Adherence to truth requires public admission of our mistakes.

(123-124)  There are other advantages in thus notifying the adversary in advance of what you are planning to do.  It shows a special kind of courage without threat.  It is a demonstration to the opponent and the public that you are truthful even when it is risky, and that you adhere to truth and trust it even at personal sacrifice or when it does not seem at first to be to the advantage of your cause.

(124)  Since trust is an essential prerequisite to persuasion, and truth creates trust, persistent devotion to truth at all costs is strongly persuasive.

(132)  The result of such interaction [search for common purpose] is not compromise but growth and adaptation, a change of character without loss of permanent integrity.

(147)  We who believe in nonviolence must change our habits before we ask an opponent to change his.

(148)  Hence nonviolent resisters in order to alter opponents must first subject themselves to self-discipline.

(151)  Stride Toward Freedom by Martin Luther King Jr
Conquest of Violence by Joan V Bondurant

(156)  Acquiring self-respect mitigates the resentment that is caused by humiliations, and thus makes self-control easier.  That is a great help toward success in using nonviolent resistance.

(163)  One of the hardest things which conscientious objectors during the world wars had to beat was a feeling of loneliness, a feeling that nobody agreed with them or cared about them.

(166)  Manual Work.  The beginning of action adequate to our problem is manual work.  Something all members of a team can work at together would be best, and that will be a service to the community.
NB:  swadeshi - not mentioned in the book or the index
barnraising, mutual aid and association

(167)  If believers in constructive, loving nonviolence will give their labor regularly and steadily to such repairs, sanitation work and cleaning-up, they will promote both individual and community morale and good feeling.

(182)  Danilo Dulci, Palermo (London:  MacGibbon & Kee, 1958) - Dolci was the Italian Gandhi

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

The Folkore of Capitalism

 The Folklore of Capitalism by Thurman W Arnold

New Haven, CT:  Yale University Press, 1937

(xiv)  That folklore consised of a series of very simple mental pictures.  The government was pictured as the thrifty head of the family who balances his budget and saves money for the future.  If he does not do so he goes bankrupt and his children suffer.  The national debt which had been constantly increasing since the First World War was a mortgage on the property of every citizen, which sooner or later would have to be paid by the next generation.  Prosperity and full employment could only be forthcoming by balancing the national budget and taking the burden of taxation from the backs of our taxpayers.  The money and credit necessary to operate our economy and full employment would then be produced by private industry and our economy would begin to grow and expand, as it did in the nineteenth century.  The idea that government credit or government debt could be used to create purchasing power necessary to distribute the products of the twentieth-century industrial revolution was unsound, radical, crackpot, dangerous, and subversive.  It was leading us straight to socialism.  Such was the economic folklore of 1962.

(xv)  For years a group of economists led by Leon Keyserling had advocated balancing the economic budget rather than the fiscal budget.  By this they meant that on one side of the balance sheet the President should estimate the productive capacities of our national industrial plants.  On the other side there should be listed the demands on that productive capacity for necessities such as schools, public works, water conservation, health, and so on through a long list.  Congress should then formulate programs which would not put an inflationary burden upon our productive capacity but at the same time would utilize it to its fullest extent.  France has such a plan.  Germany though without a formal plan has for years thought in terms of production rather than money.  In other words, balancing the economic budget consists in the establishment of economic goals and the implementation of those goals by practical methods.

(xvi)  The central idea of the economic folklore which frustrated our ability to use the capacity of the modern industrial revolution may be expressed as follows:  Private enterprise with its tremendous variety of credit devices is able to supply the purchasing power which will not only utilize our full productive capacity but enable it to expand.  It is the duty of the government to prevent that expansion from proceeding so rapidly.  The government performs that duty by balancing the budget.

(xviii)  Conservatives in Power:  A Study in Frustration by Edwin Dale Jr, financial editor of the NYTimes

(xix) The real difficulty is that we have failed to realize the tremendous productive capacity of the twentieth-century scientific revolution.  That capacity is so great that the credit mechanisms invented by the private sector of the economy cannot fully employ it.  Those credit mechanisms, which we will call the private printing of money, have never before in our history pumped as much money into the nation’s purchasing power.

(xx)  The Potomac River is a good illustration of this folklore.  It is an open sewer.  A vast recreation area badly needed has gone to waste.  The more the sludge accumulates the greater will be the burden on posterity.  We have the productive capacity to clean up this river and all the other rivers.  But we cannot do so because it would be an intolerable burden on our taxpayers.  According to our folklore there is only one economic situation which would justify cleaning up the Potomac, and that is if Washington, DC, became a depressed area.  In that case, perhaps, we might clean it up, not because the job itself was worthwhile doing but because the expenditures might prime the pump and get Washington on its economic feet again.  But until Washington becomes a depressed area it is better to let the Potomac fill up with sludge so that it will remain a handy way of priming the pump in the future.

(xxii)  A public debt owed by a nation to its own citizens is not a mortgage which their children must pay off.   The building of necessary public works is an asset both for the present and the future.

(5)  All arguments against heresy follow the same pattern.  A Devil must first be discovered who is trying to lead the people astray.  A Hell must be invented which illustrsates what happens to those who listen to the Devil.  The conception of free will is essential.  Then the age-old story is told.

(9)  We are still convinced that appeals to the thinking man to choose his system of government are not ceremonies but actual methods of social control.  We still use governmental creeds as a basis for diagnosis.

(20)  One does not speak of a successful trial lawyer as a great scholar of the law - and one does not speak of successful political strategy as statesmanship.

(23)  This chapter will therefore be based on the assumption that social creeds, law, economics, and so on _have no meaning whatever_ apart from the organization to which they are attached. 

(25)  The elements which all social organizations share in common may tentatively be described as follows:

1.  A creed or a set of commonly accepted rituals, verbal or ceremonial, which has the effect of making each individual feel an integral part of the group and which makes the group appear as a single unit...

2.  A set of attitudes which makes the creed effective by giving the individual prestige, or at least security, when he subordinates what are ordinarily called “selfish interests” to those of the group….

3.  A set of institutional habits by means of which men are automatically able to work together without any process of conscious choice as to whether they will cooperate or not…

4.  The mythological or historical tradition which proves that an institutional creed has been ordained by more than human forces.

(27)  In this country we like to think that we decided to write down all our governmental principles in one document called the Constitution.  Actually, the Constitution consists of thousands of documents written at various times.

(31)  It is considered quite a sophisticated observation in these curious times to say that both political parties are exactly alike.  Few, however, understand that the reason for this is that where the center of attention is abstractions rather than practical objectives all parties are bound to be alike.

(37)  Our Devil is governmental interference.  Thus we firmly believe in the inherent malevolence of government which interferes with business.  Here are people who are not to be trusted - they are the bureaucrats, the petty tyrants, the destroyers of a rule of law.  Organizations always tend to assume the charcters given to them by popular mythology.

(46)  For example, years ago Mr Justice Cardozo pointed out that law was really literature.

(48)  …the great principle that government should not interfere with business.

(50)  Anything which could be called governmental interference in business necessarily created bureaucracy, regimentation, inflation and put burdens on posterity.

(58)  Out of it have been spun our great legal and economic principles which have made our learning about government a search for universal truth rather than a net of observations about the techniques of human organizations.

(61)  Yet it was constantly pointed out by its opponents that if one tried to obtain Socialism, one got either Fascism or Communism, with their attendant evils of regimentation, bureaucracy, dictatorship, and so on, and that individualism disappeared.

(61-62)  Tendencies are regarded as far more important than immediate effects and the danger to posterity actually seemed more real than the danger to existing persons.

(83)  Social plans are a symptom, not a cause.  Goods are distributed, not through plans, but through habit and ceremony.  Most of these ceremonies are not recognized as such and are thought to be expressions of fundamental truth.

(96)  The quaint moral conceptions of legal and economic learning by which the needs of the moment could be argued out of existence were expressed by “long run” arguments.  Such arguments always appear in religious thinking.  From the point of view the future is supposed to be the only reality, just as Heaven in the MIddle Ages was the only reality.  All else is regarded as temporary, shifting, and ephermeral.  This way of thinking allows men to ignore what they see before them in their absorption with the more orderly blueprint of the future.

(100)  Each social science was a pyramid of abstract theory, imposed upside down on some simple myth believed by the man in the street.

The result of this devotion to theory was to obscure practical necessities and to prevent the alignment of groups according to their actual interests.  It was impossible to form political parties to represent the interests of different economic groups because everyone believed in the same slogans and refused to talk about practical affairs.  Therefore, party platforms in America were practically identical, except for minor detail.

(101)  The reason was obvious.  Everyone belonged to the same church.  Everyone believed in a written Constitution and a Supreme Court to save the nation’s soul, and in the existence of sound economic principles discovered by impartial learned men in colleges to cure its body.  And, above all, everyone believed in a government of principles and not of men.  The idea that different classes of the country really had opposing interests, that they were _not_ all working hand in hand toward the same goal - ie, justice under the capitalistic system - never took any emotional hold on any extensive group.  A separate labor movement was regarded as dangerous even by a large section of labot.

(104)  The learned theology of the time, however, convinced men that the same general principles of credit, noninterference with business, bureaucracy, the gold standard, the Constitution, and individualism operated without regard to particular organizations or personalities.

(106-107)  [Annual poll of national problems]  The reader will note:  (1) that abstractions always lead the list and practical problems get very few votes;  (2) that there are no problems stated concretely;  and (3) that the problem selected as the most pressing is one which is already on its way to a solution through the emergence of a new organization which is rising to fill the need.

(108)  This curious attitude is the result of a philosophy that great organizations dressed in clothes of individuals achieve long-run unselfish and humanitarian results by pursuing their selfish interests.  The only control needed is that of an umpire.  The only formulas needed are standards by which the umpire can apply the rules of the game.

…. “To be grandly vague,” said Herbert Finer, “is the shortest route to power;  for a meaningless noise is that which divides us the least.”

(110)  Thus we developed two coordinate governing classes:  the one, called “business,” building cities, manufacturing and distributing goods, and holding complete and automatic control over the livelihood of millions;  the other, called ‘government,” concerned with the preaching and exemplification of spiritual ideals, so caught in a mass of theory that when it wished to move in a practical world it had to do so by means of a sub rosa political machine.

(112)  When organizational changes began to appear after the depression, the liberals opposed change and lost their identity as a group.  This is characteristic of liberal movements in times of change.  They always disappear, because they are symptoms of belief in established forms.  They stand on the same fundamental truths as conservatives and immediately join forces with conservatives when new organizations appear to violate those truths.

(137-138)  We suggest therefore that the platform of the observer by the following:
1.  Institutions are like personalities playing a dramatic part in society.  They are to be judged by their utility in the distribution of physical comforts and in the development of an atmosphere of spiritual peace.
2.  When institutions fail to function, reforms must be attempted with something like the same point of view with which a trained psychiatrist reforms an individual.  That point of view must recognize that an institution has something which may be called a subconscious mind.  This means only that its verbal conduct must be calculated to inspire morale and not to describe what it does.
3.  Law and economics are the formal language of institutions on parade.

(142)  Professor Edward S Robinson of Yale, apsychologist who chose to observe law and economics

(144)  … editors do not realize that a political campaign is a dramatic production.

(145)  The trick of being tolerant between elections and starting a mass attack when the battle actually commences is not yet learned.

(162)  Most people will think in terms of a religion of government.

(176)  A trial cannot be a sensible way of investigating facts because the process consists in having two partisans indulge in mutual exaggerations on their own behalf with the idea that the juidge will find the truth in the middle.  The detective does not adopt that process.
NB:  Same with governance and with the media - all use two opposite poles to approach the “middle” assumed common ground

(189)  Men cheerfully accept the fact that some individuals are good and others bad.  Therefore, since great industrial organizations were regarded as individuals, it was not expected that all of them would be good.  Corporations could therefore violate any of the established taboos without creating any alarm about the “system” itself.  Since individuals are supposed to do better if let alone, this symbolism freed industrial enterprise from regulation in the interest of furthering any current morality.  The laissez faire religion, based on a conception of a society composed of competing individuals, was transferred automatically to industrial organizations with nation-wide power and dictatorial forms of government.

… The Government at Washington gradually changed into what was essentially a spiritual government whose every action was designed to reconcile the conflict between myth and reality which men felt when a creed of individualism was applied to a highly organized industrial world.

(197)  The arguments often appeared nonsensical, but it should be remembered that for the purpose of binding organizations together nothing makes as much sense as nonsense, and hence nonsense always wins.

Tears and parades, not factual psychological discussion, are the moving forces of the world in which we happen to live;  and this is true even for psychologists.

(205)  industrial feudalism

(220)  And the reason for this was that the reformers themselves were caught in the same creeds which supported the institutions they were trying to reform.  Obsessed with a moral attitude towared society, they thought in Utopias.  They were interested in systems of government.  Philosophy was for them more important than opportunism and so they achieved in the end philosophy rather than opportunity.  

(230)  A corporate reorganization is a combination of a municipal election, a historical pageant, an antivice crusade, a graduate-school seminar, a judicial proceeding, and a series of horse trades, all rolled into one - thoroughly buttered with learning and frosted with distinguished names.

(231)  Although to the casual observer the complications seem more forbidding, actually the dialectic of this process is very simple.  It consists in the endless repetition in different forms of the notion that men must pay their debts, in a situation in which neither men nor debts in any real sense are involved.

(251)  4.  A recognition of the public responsibility of a great organization to provide security to its retainers and distribute goods would be Communism.

6.  Industrial organizations are not themselves dictatorships because they are individuals exercising their own free will.

… And so the slogans run which protect the dreamworld of fiscal thinking from the actual world of social conduct.

(259)  Fees and patronage in industrial organization, however, are protected by two myths which work together as follows:  (1) Nothing that great American businessman do with their own property can be other than helpful.  (2) Great organizations are in fact American businessmen.  It is the combination of these two myths that creates an anarchy which makes ethical conduct on the part of socially minded businessmen almost impossible.  This can be illustrated by concrete examples. 

(262) In the year 1937 the poll taken by the Institute of Public Opinion showed that two thirds of the people of the United States did not have a decent living wage to support their families according to what they considered the minimum standards of the time.

(280)  Thus the implicit belief that nothing but efficiency could result from uncontrolled private organization, and nothing but inefficiency could result from government organization enabled us to spend vast sums as bonuses to improve every other country but our own.

(285-286)   Government organizations did not operate on the profit motive and therefore private initiative was more efficient.  Government organizations could only be operated at great cost to the taxpayers, whereas private organizations made profits and hence “cost” no one anything.

(310)  One of the most interesting types of taxation levied is illustrated by the Ford Motor Company financing.  This type of taxation has become familiar in European dictatorships.  Ford simply shipped cars to all his dealers with the demand that they pay for them or else their business would be confiscated.  With the aid of local banks they paid. There was nothing else for them to do.  Many of the Ford dealers worked all their lives to contribute to Ford.  However, the similarity of these payments to a tax escaped the attention of men living in the dreamworld of fiscal thinking.  They were considered a free and voluntary trade between a big man called the Ford Motor Company and a lot of little men called dealers.

These same pressures were found in the distribution of securities.  Great issuing houses had a number of good things to distribute and number of sour issues.  If a dealer wanted the patronage of the great house, he took the sour with the good, and got the money back from the public if he could.  The investor was supposed to protect himself by diversification, so that he would get a reasonable number of winning tickets in this lottery scheme of taxation.  It was taken for granted that a substantial number of tickets would lose.

… A world of trade between independent individuals gradually became an industrial feudalism.

(311)  In which is discussed the curious myth that permanent public improvements, conservation of resources, utilization of idle labor, and distribution of available goods are a burden on posterity if accomplished by an organization called “government” which assumes public responsibility.

… It set up standards by which the Government was judged by its failures, while an industrial organization was judged by its successes and its failures were excused.

(312-313)  The second important underlying myth which aids private organizations and hampers government activity along practical lines is the notion that the government has no  “assets.”   

(313)  Wealth, as we have shown, is nothing more than a present-day guess as to what goods and services an individual or an organization can control in the future.  The organization spending on a large scale raises hopes;  men begin to believe in it;  its stock goes up in value;  its hopes are reflected in its bookkeeping;  thus it becomes solvent.
NB:  The best thing is to have a million dollars in the bank.  The second-best is to owe the bank a million dollars.  As the saying goes.

(317)  The principles of “waste” did not apply to business at all, because of the theory that “waste” was automatically eliminated by competition.  No one had the faintest idea what “waste” was anyway.
NB:  Bill McDonough’s natural design rules where “waste equals food”

(324)  When interviewed on the ethics of such transactions [tax avoidance dodges], Mr J P Morgan said:  “If the government cannot collect its taxes, a man is a fool to pay them.”  His remark represented current business ethics toward the Government.  No respecatable person could make the statement that if a _bank_ was unable to collect its notes, the debtor would be a fool to meet his obligations.

…The right to fight long and expensive legal battles has become identified with human freedom, and on the banner of every great tax avoider is inscribed the motto;  “Taxation without litigation is tyranny."

(326)  However, the central idea was that “government” does not spend its “own” money.  It can have no assets.  It cannot use corporate methods of balancing its budget.

(329)  The notion is that nobody “pays” for the mistakes of private organizations, except the investors, the laborers, and the purchasers, and that their loss is not a tax but is something due to their own fault for investing in, working for, and purchasing from, the particular organizations.  In the case of governmental organization, every mistake is a tax on posterity.

(333)  A philosophy of government is a series of parables through which men see the world before them.

(356-357)  8.  Institutional creeds, such as law, economics, or theology, must be false in order to function effectively.  This paradoxical statement means that they must express contradictory ideals, and must authoritatively suppress any facts which interfere with those ideals.

(357)  Therefore, attempts to make creeds consistent, or to make preachers practice what they preach, are effective as destructive, but not as constructive, forces.  What radicals are constantly calling hypocrisy in legal, economic, or ecclesiastical bishops is in reality their ability to act well on the institutional stage which has been set for them by a complex of forces for which they are responsible.

…  The creed of any institution is public presentation of a drama in which the institution is the hero.  The play is spoiled unless the machinery behind the scenes is carefully concealed.  In this lies the explanation of the paradox that legal and economic principles must be false in order to be effective.

(376)  Procedural reform can only be effective where the reformer realizes that the judicial process is necessarily a dramatic contest.

(379)  Public debate is necessarily only a method of giving unity and morale to organizations.  It is ceremonial and designed to create enthusiasm, to increase faith and quiet doubt.  It can have nothing to do with the actual practical analysis of facts.
NB:  “Increase faith and quiet doubt” is ambiguous, increase quiet doubt?  

(382)  It is important that political debate be positive and affirmative and not negative.  When slogans appeal only to fears they hinder organization.  The side with the positive slogans will therefore have the advantage.
NB:  But in the drama of a political campaign a positive slogan does not have to become a positive program:  Make America Great Again

(392)  The Constitution has ceased to be a charter of positive government.  It is only a protection against unholy desires.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Dolly Parton Is the Real Deal

 Dolly Parton is in the news (11/18/20) because she helped fund research for a COVID19 vaccine, besides being a musical and film and TV star and distributing something like 100 million books to the youngest readers.  

I am happy that I made sure to see her last time she played Boston.  I hadn’t realized till then what a great songwriter she is as well as being a consummate musical performer.  The show was at the Boch Center and the attitude of the women and girls who turned out for her was a joy to experience.  If Ms Parton does not win a Gershwin Prize it’s an embarrassment to whoever chooses such things.

Found a copy of her autobiography in a Little Free Library and was glad to learn more about this remarkable and admirable woman.

Dolly:  My Life and Other Unfinished Business by Dolly Parton
NY:  HarperCollins, 1994
ISBN 0-06-017720-9

(page 7)  Well, this snooty parson in his starched collar stopped by the fence while my daddy was sweating and groaning trying to get a stump out of the ground, and he said, “Hello, Lee, this is a right nice place you and the Lord have here.”  Daddy wiped the sweat from his brow with the back of his sleeve and said, “Yeah, well, you should have seen the som’bitch when the Lord had it by hisself."

(31) This was the first indication [a pie supper where Dewey King bought her pie to sit with her] I can remember that boys were interested in me, and I was touched by that. Although I’m not quite sure where.

(33-34)  Dolly’s mother would sometimes make Stone Soup with the kids, picking the stone of the neediest kid to go in the soup.

(45)  Wouldn’t it be something if we could have things we love in abundance without their losing that special attraction the want of them held for us.

(51)  The worst thing about poverty is not the actual pain of it, but the shame of it.

(66)   In my childlike way, I came to understand that death is only frightening to those of us left behind.

(72)  What has a six-year-old kid done that justified being burned in hellfire?  Any time I asked questions like that I was always told I was too young to understand.  It seemed to me that should work both ways.  I should also be too young to be punished for something I didn’t understand.

(119)  There is a healthy amount of dreaming that has to be done for any project to really be worthwhile.

(134)  I had loved John Kennedy.  Not in the way a woman loves a man but in the way one idealist recognizes another and loves him for that place within themselves that they share.  I didn’t know a lot about politics, but I knew that a lot of things were wrong and unjust and that Kennedy wanted to change them.  He was young.  He was looked at the country with fresh eyes that saw what his predecessors could not or would not.  I grieved for the country.  For the loss of a spirit that young people and poor people and downtrodden people could share and call their own.

(141)  I remembered old stories people would tell about times during the depression when down-and-out diners would go to a café and order a pine float - a glass of water and a toothpick.

(193)  You know money don’t make you smart.  Money don’t make you happy.  But it can make you comfortable if you’re smart enough to be happy.

(215)  We do these things [play tricks on each other] for the fun.  Carl [Dean, her husband] likes it better when nothing is said and it’s just funny inside.  Maybe it stays funny longer that way.

(240)  It’s hard when you want the best for everybody but you also want it for yourself.

(306)  The poet Emily Dickinson said, “The only thing I know about love is that love is all there is.”

(307)  I do think, though, that it’s time we learned to use the word _love_ without cringing.  Maybe then we’ll be able to actually do it without making a big deal out of it, to have it be as much a part of our daily lives as eating or sleeping.

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Charmed Lives: A Family Romance

My father was very proud of his Hungarian heritage and proud of all other Hungarians of note.  One of the people he admired was Alexander Korda who made films in Hungary, Germany, the UK, and the USA, where he helped build the movie industry in each and every country.

Alexander Korda brought his two brothers along with him, Zoltan, who became a fine director, and Vincent, a painter who became a noted art director.  Michael Korda was Vincent's son, Alexander's nephew, and became an author and very successful publisher.

Here in what is shaping up to be a disastrous 21st century, these stories from the disastrous 20th century display a kind of life that we will not see again.

Charmed Lives:  A Family Romance by Michael Korda

NY:  Random House, 1979

ISBN  0-394-41954-5

(14)  [England in the late forties] The national spirit was that of the Blitz, without the excitement of the war or the hope of victory.

(32)  Once you have lived long enough in Southern California it always seems like the rest world when you return.  From Sunset Boulevard and South Rodeo Drive, New York, London, Venice - indeed anywhere east of Palm Springs and west of Malibu - appear insubstantial and unreal.  It has always  seemed to me natural to feel lonely in Los Angeles.  In New York I get desperate when I’m alone, and seek out strangers in bars, or begin telephoning friends at odd hours of the night, but I _expect_ to be lonely in L.A., and don’t mind it, since everybody appears to be as well.

(37)  … Habsburg bureaucracy (once accurately described as "despotism humanized by stupidity”).

(66)  As Zoli was later to say, “If people want to kill you for political reasons it can happen or not happen, but if they want to kill you for money, you are already dead.”

(92)  There is a wise Gypsy saying:  “Never steal two chickens in the same village.”

(93)  He [Alex] did not believe in self-justification.  When people were angry at him, he simply agreed with then, thus disarming them completely.

(157)  There is no cruelty like that of small children, and rich children are more cruel than most.

(163)  When Zoli nearly drowned shooting a scene with the mechanical Kaa on the set of “The Jungle Book”:  Coughing and spluttering, Zoli stood up on the bank, wringing out his hat.  “Vy didn’t you bloody help?” He asked.

Alex stared at his muddy shoes.  “You should have shouted in Hungarian,” he said.  “A cry for help should always be in your native language.  Only your own understand."

(164)  Vincent:  Remember:  The people who do the work are more important than the people who give the orders, and don’t ever forget it.

(191)  … at worst a Jaguar sedan (known among chauffeurs as “the Jew’s Bentley”)…

(195)  Alex:  “It’s an old custom.  If you give somebody a knife as a gift, he will become an enemy.  If he gives you a coin, he has bought the knife from you, you see, and you remain friends.  I want us to be friends, so I am taking your penny…."

(205)  Alex:  “Get used to the best,” he would say, “and you will then have a good incentive to succeed - and anyway what’s the point in getting used to second-rate things?”

(225)  Getting Orson Welles to play Harry Lime, chasing him from Rome to Naples to Venice to Capri to Nice, just after WWII when fresh fruit was still unavailable in the UK:  Once we were airborne, my father fell asleep, and gradually Orson, having finished the Nice-Matin and yesterday's Paris edition of the New York Herald-Tribune, began to eye the fruit. Sleepy myself, I noticed him pick up a piece of fruit and fondle it, but when I woke up an hour or so later, I realized to my horror that he had systematically taken a single bite out of each piece of fruit, even the ones whose rinds made this a difficult proposition. Having effectively destroyed Vincent's fruit basket, he was now at peace with himself, and slept soundly, his immaculate appearance marred only by a few spots of juice on shirt front.

I thought there was nothing to be gained by telling my father about Orson's revenge, and when we landed and he saw his devastated fruit basket, he merely sighed and asked the chauffeur to deliver it to Mr. Welles's suite at Claridge's. Not a vindictive man, Vincent was always surprised that others were, he made a allowance for talent.  "I give you a word of advice," he said, as we turned into Wilton Place –" never trust an actor!"

(231)  [Sonny] Tufts had been the victim of a terrible remark, perhaps the only actor in the history of motion pictures whose career was ended by a single line.  When Cary Grant had fallen ill before giving a speech, the organizing committee had replaced him at the last minute with Sonny Tufts, and the master of ceremonies, who had not been informed of the switch, announced to the audience of motion picture celebrities, “And now I present you with one of the truly great actors of the industry, a man who has been a star for many years, a distinguished actor and a great gentleman” - he glanced down at his program notes -  “Sonny _Tufts_?”  The roars of laughter echoed for many minutes, and Tufts never recovered.  Now he was attempting to make a comeback in England, preseumably in the hope that nobody had heard about the joke there, and Alex listened to him with growing impatience.

(241)  In one interview Alex was quoted as saying, “Poverty brings out the best and worst in a man, and it brought out both in me;  money, on the other hand, promises everything and gives nothing - but you first have to have it in order to despise it.”

(270)  Brendan Bracken on Alex buying a Chagall from Chagall’s wife:  “‘Not at all Brendan,’ he [Alex] said, 'Sometimes you have to let yourself be cheated like a gentleman.’  I daresay he’s right, but the truth of the matter is that he’s easily charmed.  I worry about that.  One should be very much on one’s guard against being charmed past the age of fifty.  It’s very dangerous, very dangerous indeed, to be a romantic at that age.”

(295-297)  At the hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo:  Shortly after we had made ourselves comfortable for dinner, a strange apparition presented itself to us in the dining room. A very old man, possibly the oldest man I had ever seen, appeared pushed in a wheelchair by a buxom woman in her mid-thirties….

Lonsdale, who's attention had been diverted from Alexa's bosom to the mysterious and unlikely couple, informed us that they were the old Baron de Rothschild and his nurse.  

“He's lived here since the year one," Lonsdale said. "He moved here from the hotel in Nice after quite a fuss. It seems that for years he had the same waiter, and every morning this waiter brought him his breakfast tea. Then one day the waiter died, and the baron complained that his tea didn't taste the same;  in fact it was dreadful, no taste all. The management rushed about trying to find out what had gone wrong. It happens that old Baron de Rothschild was a miserable tipper. He hated parting with money. In revenge the old floor waiter used to piss in his teapot every morning, starting I suppose with just a few drops, until old Rothschild gradually got used to it. When the waiter died, the new one was bringing Rothschild perfectly good tea, of course, but it just didn't taste the same because he'd gotten used to piss. There was a terrible row when the whole thing came out, and he moved here.”

As our own meal drew to a close, I noticed that the old man was becoming increasingly animated, as if, finally, his evening was about to reach its climax. I wondered if he had a taste for dessert, and was expecting to see something lavish and extraordinary after his frugal meal, but I was surprised to see that maitre d'hotel arrive with a single orange on a silver plate. Deftly, he stuck a fork in the orange and showed it to Rothschild, who nodded in approval. Taking a knife the maitre d'hotel skillfully cut the rind of the orange in one long loop, and placed the fruit in front of the Baron with the flourish.  Rothschild, by now quivering slightly in anticipation, tore the orange into segments with his palsied fingers. It seemed to me improbable that an orange could cause so much pleasure in any man, but who can tell what a man who likes piss in his tea will be excited by. I watched him place one segment of the orange in his mouth, roll it around, chew at it and swallow.  Then, to my astonishment, he very precisely spat the pips straight out across the table, where they landed between his companions breasts.  She took no notice and continued to smile. He snuffled with pleasure, wiped his mouth and took up another orange segment, and proceeded once more to spit the pips out into her cleavage. She looked around the room as if nothing were happening. I squeezed Alexis hand and pointed, and we sat breathlessly as he disposed of the whole orange and its pips, never once missing his target. Then, when he had finished, his companion rose, took away his napkin, checked his rug and wheeled him out of the dining room, bowing majestically to the staff, while the baron sunk back into a comatose lethargy. Clearly it had been the high point of his day….

I explained, as best I could, what what we had seen, and for a moment I thought Alex was not going to believe me. But Freddie Lonsdale gave one of his cackles. "Quite true," he said, "quite true. I heard he does that, but I've never seen it, and I'm sorry I missed it. They say that he also likes to go down to the kitchens and shape all the ice cream and parfaits into perfect little spirals by licking them. I've never been able to eat a parfait since.”

“Well," Alex reflected," I suppose we shall all have to find new pleasures at a certain age, God knows. In a way one can envy him."

(305)  She [Vivien Leigh] was, as Alex said, “the only person in the world who could be charming while she was throwing up,”…

(333)  I was making the same mistake that everybody made about my father;  because he liked company, people assumed he liked conversation.  The worst thing he could say about a man (and most women) was that they talked too much.

(334)  Like Winston Churchill, who always turned off his hearing aid in the House of Commons (and at home) on the grounds that he could hear what he himself was saying perfectly well without it, and didn’t much care what other people were saying, Vincent was quite capable of ignoring a conversation until he felt it was time to join it, or put an end to it.

(340)  Alex:  "Years ago, I remember that Lawrence of Arabia was coming to see me to talk about a movie of Seven Pillars of Wisdom, and he was killed on the way in a motorbike accident.  I still own the rights.”

(358)  Alex leaned over and gave me a searching look, “Remember,” he said, “all girls are different.  Unfortunately, all wives are the same.”

(380)  “Retirement,” he [Alex] said, “is a very difficult thing, much more difficult than people think.  The end is much harder than the beginning.  In the beginning, one is driven by hope and ambition, but at the end it’s just a question of how comfortably you can go out, and between the damned tax people at Somerset House and the bloody doctors, you can’t even count on much in the way of comfort.  Even the greatness of the past doesn’t help all that much.  In Churchill’s case, it just makes it that much harder to go.  Once one has climbed the ladder, it’s hard to step down - and very easy to fall!"

(387)   Movie people are seldom aware of the awe in which they are regarded, partly because they're too busy to notice where they’re working, and because it’s a way of life.  When a camera and lights are set up, it attracts a crowd - much as accidents and crimes do.

(394)  Leila, Vincent’s second wife:  People with ordinary family lives are much happier than people who want to be special.  I learned that.  You may learn it - I hope so, for your sake.

(420)  He [Alex] had once said that in every love affair there is one secret thing which each person knows about the other and which can never be spoken because it will immediately destroy the relationship, a kind of secret weapon in everybody’s heart.

(427)  Zoli:  You haven’t been close because she’s an old woman who once did you a favor.  I understand that.  We always want to turn away from the people who did favors for us, no?  It’s natural, even if it’s not very nice.

(434)  Alex:  Entertainment counts and it is the most difficult thing of all.  You can affect an audience three ways - you can make them laugh, make them cry, and make them sit forward in their seats with excitement.  You should never degrade them…

(449)  Photographer Milton Greene on Alexa [Alexander's third and much younger wife]:  “Nobody’s going to solve her problems.  She has to learn, like everybody else.”

”Learn what?”

“Learn that being tough doesn’t help.  Being rich doesn’t help much either.  What matters is feeling good about what you’re doing.  I don’t think she does.”

(478)  Alex had always boasted that he could learn any language by going to a new country and buying the newspapers, reading them every day until he understood the headlines, then the stories, then the reviews and features.  “When you can do the crosswords,” he would say, “it is time to move on to another country, and learn a new language."