Hey everybody! Look at me! I’m a moron!

The best way I can think of to describe the current status of the GOP is “malevolent inanity.”

The elevation of nonsensical, yet still hateful, rhetoric whose sole intention is to rile up the aggrieved, while not new, is now the primary (only?) strategy of the GOP’s desperate attempt to maintain relevance and cling to power.

A good example of the effect is to watch the New Yorker video of the invasion of the senate chamber at the U.S. Capitol. President Trump, Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, et al. managed to animate a cadre of pathetic golems taking the form of giant toddlers. Overgrown preschool escapees whose power resides in falling on the floor and shitting themselves.

Remember when your kids first discovered that pushing a plate of food off the high-chair tray resulted in all kinds of excitement and chaos? That’s these guys.

The bar for becoming a freedom fighter is now low enough to step over. You just have to be willing to zip-tie the constitution to a chair.

First Paragraph:

“I was stunned by Mary Karr’s memoir, The Liars’ Club. Not just by its ferocity, its beauty, and by her delightful grasp of the vernacular, but by its totality—she is a woman who remembers everything about her early years.”

—Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

The collapse of our democracy begins with the loss of places where silly people can get together and lie to each other.


I found a copy of this book at The Dusty Bookshelf here in Lawrence, KS today. It’s reputation proceeds it but I would have purchased it on the strength of the epigram alone.

“When someone is honestly 55% right, that’s very good and there’s no use wrangling. And if someone is 60% right, it’s wonderful, it’s great luck, and let him thank God. But what’s to be said about 75% right? Wise people say this is suspicious. Well, and what about 100% right? Whoever says he’s 100% right is a fanatic, a thug, and the worst kind of rascal.”

—An old Jew of Galicia
The Captive Mind, Czeslaw Milosz, 1953

First Paragraph:

It was only toward the middle of the twentieth century that the inhabitants of many European countries came, in general unpleasantly, to the real­ization that their fate could be influenced directly by intricate and abstruse books of philosophy. Their bread, their work, their private lives began to depend on this or that decision in disputes on principles to which, until then, they had never paid any attention. In their eyes, the philosopher had always been a sort of dreamer whose divagations had no effect on real­ity. The average human being, even if he had once been exposed to it, wrote philosophy off as utterly impractical and useless. Therefore the great intellec­tual work of the Marxists could easily pass as just one more variation on a sterile pastime. Only a few in­dividuals understood the causes and probable conse­quences of this general indifference.

—Czeslaw Milosz, The Captive Mind, 1953

Stacey Abrams

Stacey Abrams - Founder of Fair Fight Action
Stacey Abrams – Founder of Fair Fight Action

Among my many faults, I count a certain baseline cynicism as one I would like to overcome.

I can excuse myself to some extent by pointing out that many humans I share this planet with seem capable of a never-ending … the rest “Stacey Abrams”

Always be Reading

Boy reading in bombed bookstore. London, 1940.
Boy reading in bombed bookstore. London, 1940.

What would stop you from reading?

Christmas quilt by Beth Jewett, 2017
Christmas quilt by Beth Jewett, 2017

My sister Beth is a talented quilt maker.

This is one she gave to me for Christmas 4 years ago. I’m putting it away before it gets too much wear and tear from the cat, but I’ll miss having something so beautiful to look at. Until next year…

We’re gonna need to send in the Marines!

How many?

…um…one should be enough.

Bobbie Draper (Frankie Adams) – The Expanse

The Long Room Of The Old Library At Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland.
Photo by Jonathan Singer.

On the reading page for Terrible Ideas, the Currently Reading section now contains 9 books. The list doesn’t contain any books that I want to give up on, so it’s time to get moving.

The On Deck section, on the other hand, is completely ridiculous. I’m going to have to do some revising and reconsidering there. There are forty books “on deck” and for some of them, I should consider adding a “wishful thinking” section. There are also quite a few unlisted recent acquisitions that are trying to push for the top of that list. It’s time for a little planning and purging.

There’s definitely going to be more poetry read. Poetry increases strength and builds muscles.

What are the books on your list for 2021?

Dan Jewett
New Year’s Eve me, 2020.

What do you know? You reach a point where it’s New Year’s Eve of the year 2020 A.D. How about that?

And I’m not grumpy! I’m…thoughtful.

Happy New Year everyone!

A nice thing about living in Lawrence, KS is the increased likelihood that you will get to say the word Wakarusa.

Try it. Wah-kah-roo-sah! It feels pretty good, yeah?


The etymology of the name “Wakarusa” is not known. According to tradition, the name is from a Native American language, meaning “knee-deep in mud”. A more recent source claims a settler named it after a location in Kansas.

As the ice builds up on my windows this morning, I’m enjoying this beautiful recording. A gem you may have missed.

Here and Her

Between here and her are rolling hills where
wind-weathered peoples once cornered game.
They walked and hunted and walked and lived.

You can save money crossing those hills if you have a K-Tag on your windshield.

Then great flats we … the rest “Here and Her”

Butterflies. Kyra Mills, 2020, watercolor.

This site would be a whole lot bleaker/blander without the colorful paintings my friend Kyra Mills occasionally shares with me.

Here in the Midwest, our memory of Summery things can fade quickly, so dose yourself up with some butterflies!

You can see more of Kyra’s paintings if you scroll through the posts on this page.

You seen any chickens?

On the way home from rowing practice this morning I came across a pair of foxes. They wouldn’t stand together for a photo, but they seemed to be having a good time.


KU Crew dock. Burcham Park, Lawrence KS.
KU Crew dock. Burcham Park, Lawrence KS. My office.

On a recent Facebook post, one of my friends made the comment “Crew coaches have the nicest offices.”

Here’s what mine looked like at 6 am this morning. It was 21º but you can’t ignore water like that. We launched … the rest “Office”

Kansas River at Dawn 2020-11-11
Kansas River at Dawn, Lawrence, KS 2020-11-11.

It’s cold and my launch engine has stalled. Somewhere up ahead in the mist are a pair of women scullers and an eight of men rowing a day into motion.

“Which way did they go? I must find them. I am their leader.”

Another beautiful morning on the Kaw.

Venn the cat on the recliner.
In the battle for the recliner, there can be only one victor.

Venn the cat dominates the household food chain.

First Paragraph:

It was one of the mixed blocks over on Central Avenue, the blocks that are not yet all Negro. I had just come out of a three-chair barber shop where an agency thought a relief barber named Dimitrios Aleidis might be working. It was a small matter. His wife said she was willing to spend a little money to have him come home.

I never found him, but Mrs. Aleidis never paid me any money either.

—Raymond Chandler. “Farewell, My Lovely.” 1940