Thoughts on Controversy

We’ve had an awful lot of controversy over a variety of topics for quite a while. A few of the subjects transformed almost overnight in light of recent events. An essay I wrote this week, Stand in the Light, tells what I think about all the controversy. No one subject in particular, just controversy in general, why we get drawn into supporting some things against our better judgment, and encouragement to think about how we think about things. Maybe it can help us deal with other subjects better than we have dealt with those that have dominated the news in recent weeks.

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Use Your Own Voice

When I was a midshipman at the Naval Academy in the 1980s, my classmates and I had to memorize the Academy’s honor concept. It has changed over the years due to scandals and periods of thoughtful reflection that followed those upheavals. In it current form, the honor concept includes a passage that says of Midshipmen: “They ensure that work submitted as their own is their own, and that assistance received from any source is authorized and properly documented. ”

That is a more explicit statement about plagiarism and originality than we had to memorize in my day. Nevertheless, we got the point. I thought it was almost common sense. My high school teachers had emphasized the importance of original work and the need to give proper attribution to the work of others.

Like so many things, I have come to learn that respect for the work of others is not common sense. Some unfortunate people who have made it quite far in the workplace will seize upon the work of others if they believe they can get away with it. I encountered someone like this in the course of an interview process. The resulting essay describes the experience.

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A Few Poems

Exactly a year has passed since my last post in this blog. Fortunately, three online journals have given me some news to share. Four of my poems –“Cold Truth,” “Lost Things Are,” “Disappearing Ways,” and “Museum”—appeared in the Fall/Winter 2014 edition of The Tower Journal. My poem “Thermodynamics” appeared in a November 19th post in The Penmen Review. And just this week, a poem titled “Lucky Place” appeared in the December 2014 edition of the web journal The Lake, published out of England. I am grateful to the editors of these fine publications for selecting my work. Please take a look, and spend some time enjoying the other writing featured on these sites. My poems are in good company.

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Radio Essay

I was pleased today to hear our local NPR affiliate broadcast my story of a flight I piloted to the North Pole. The recording experience at the WFDD studio was fun, the producer coached me well and edited the story nicely, and recounting the experience brought back good memories. Please follow this link to hear the story for yourself.

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Two Poems

The Spring 2013 issue (issue #8) of Muddy River Poetry Review is out. I am pleased to see two of my poems in the online journal. Moment of Silence and Motion both made the cut. Thanks to Editor Zvi A. Sesling at Muddy River for selecting them. Read them here, or better yet, go to the MRPR site and check out the work of other poets while you’re there.

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An Essay about an Essay

Off and on for thirty years I have thought about one particular essay I wrote in college. Here’s an essay about that essay. Prior to our current age of rampant self-help books and pop-psychology talk shows and an actual profession called “Life Coach,” my original essay described a different source of advice.

Help yourself to the short piece titled Self Leadership in the Essay section of my blog.

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A Milepost

I delivered my first eulogy this week. I would much prefer to have my uncle and godfather back among the living, in good health, but the sequence of life events leads in one direction. If you knew Charles Johnson and were not able to attend his memorial service, I invite you to read his eulogy.

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A Stable Society

“There can be no doubt that a society rooted in the soil is more stable than one rooted in pavements.”
– Aldo Leopold

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Poem Published

This week I was pleased to see my poem Science, Fiction published in “Dark Matter: A Journal of Speculative Writing.” Check out my Poetry page for a link to the journal. My poem appears on page 47 — which coincidentally is my age at the time of publication. But I digress.

If you browse through the journal, I suspect you will find some of the works to be more speculative than others. My poem is speculative, but rational. It is the result of wondering about the degree of creativity that may be possible in mathematical equations. We are familiar with fiction in the written word; does mathematics offer fictional representation as well? In other words, does every logical formula provide a factual representation of reality, or can a formula make perfect logical sense, yet represent a complete fabrication? Think of what Hamlet told Horatio: “There is more in heaven and earth than in all your philosophy.” Surely we encounter limitations and shortcomings in all our representative languages that we can’t even know. Our best guesses fall short. Sometimes they are wrong, in which case they are well-meaning fiction. As we know from literature, fiction can be very informative, but it’s still fiction. Does mathematics offer fiction? I think it must. This poem is one way of saying so.

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Departed Hero

Although I have thought about writing quite a bit in recent months and actually written a little, none of the finished work has landed here. Yesterday, however, a true hero left us. Amid the many fallen “heroes” of sports and political fame, Neil Armstrong was a man of great integrity and discipline. He was a man of stature, and his one small step inspired a generation of us to dream of flying long before popular movies glorified the space program or naval aviation. Neil Armstrong was a hero. He was certainly one of mine. Please see my poem Armstrong, a small tribute to a modest giant of American history.

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