reflections of a pragmatic optimist, lover of freedom

Category: Books (Page 1 of 3)

The Deal

Who else but Bill Whittle can so adeptly weave together the early history of commercial aviation, this month’s deadly Chinook crash involving members of SEAL Team Six, the end of the Space Shuttle program, the private space race, the November 2001 crash of American Airlines flight 587 in Queens, and the needless, gut-wrenching destruction of the recent London riots.

Don’t miss “The Deal”, Bill’s latest Afterburner, on PJTV:

I would add one minor adjustment, that I doubt Bill would quibble with: To me, it’s being willing to risk dying for something that’s the key. Excepting one who chooses to embrace certain death as the last and only possible way to save others (as a soldier diving on a grenade, using his body to prevent the deadly spray of shrapnel from killing his comrades-in-arms), in a culture that rightly celebrates and cherishes life, we achieve our ends by embracing risk and seeking to live through danger, not by dying. Dying is just what happens the one time the gamble doesn’t pay off, despite our best reasonable efforts to prevent it short of playing life safe and never daring to venture anything at all (which is an end far worse than dying in the pursuit of a meaningful goal).

Amazon has Ernest Gann’s “Fate is the Hunter” in paperback.

Published a New “Quotes” Page

I’ve made a habit, for some years now, of collecting quotes that strike me as profoundly insightful or interesting, probably for all the same reasons that others do — for the keenly focused insight and concise expression of ideas they offer, as well as the inspiration and distilled wisdom they can call to mind on a moment’s notice.

Having recently sifted through the assortment of text files where I’ve been gradually stashing these hand-selected quotes away, I’ve assembled the best of them into a new “Quotes” page that I invite you all to visit.

The topics include Liberty & Economics, Cultural Confidence, War, and keeping Perspective. I hope my readers will draw as much enjoyment from them as I have.

UPDATE 2010-02-08: I’ve added several more selected gems, dug out of a handwritten journal I’ve kept off and on since September 2002. Enjoy!

The Dilemmas of a Day Off

It’s the start of a wide-open day off where I have nothing previously planned, and as usual my mind is racing a bit with a completely infeasible number of ideas for things I might do. Picture the bits of debris whirling around in the Wizard of Oz twister; it feels a bit like that.

You might think a bit of simple rest and relaxation would be high on the list, and in a very real sense it is (I might even get myself to sit long enough to watch a movie), but in general I need something for my noggin to engage with. Creative projects of various kinds, and even simple “getting my life un-cluttered so I can feel relaxed and focus the next time I sit down to a creative project” projects are things I always wish I had more time for, and they come to mind on those rare occasions when the time actually becomes available.

The danger with a day like today is always that I’ll try to do a bit of several things here and there, and then wonder in the end, as I usually end up doing, what I actually did or where the day went. So today I’m thinking I’ll try to avoid the possibly inevitable, and start the day by prioritizing and choosing one or maybe a very few things to try to do or accomplish.

This would be the time when I fire up Things on my Mac or iPhone, and try to skim the cream off my To Do list. (Brief product endorsement here: I love Things, and rely on it as the place where I dump all the miscellaneous “I should maybe…” thoughts that would otherwise clutter and worry my overactive mind. I’ve become a big fan of “ubiquitous capture”, for the stuff that’s worth capturing at least.)

Thoughts for today: catch up on my blog/news reading (I’m days behind, and I miss it!), do some of the blog writing I’ve been wanting to get to (lots of ideas saved up, but never the time), go through our pictures from this weekend’s Big Sur / Pacific Grove / Monterey trip and post some, work on finishing one of the 2-3 books I tend to be in the middle of reading at any given time (right now it’s “An Innocent at Polebrook” and “Atlas Shrugged”, and I’m looking to start a book on getting a pilot’s license that I got for Christmas), organize the virtual mess of project files on the home computer that I never tend to since I spend my days in front of the work computer, do the same for my paper files (not so much the boring bills-and-receipts stuff, but the project folders where I’ve collected ideas and notes over the years), work on the office redecorating project we started a couple months ago (the walls are bare, and pictures need hanging), get a voltmeter so I can figure out whether the cordless drill needs a new battery or a new charger, and then get what the drill needs so I can run the wires for the surround speakers under the house to the back of the living room, fire up GarageBand for a little guitar or keyboard practice, etc. And those are just the things I’d like to do for fun. I’ve also got our baby shower to help plan, and probably a variety of other things that need doing around the house.

Of course, all this “meta” stuff of taking the time to blog about what I might do is taking time away from, well, what I might do… The hope is that sitting and taking a moment to reflect on the possibilities before launching right into anything might help me to make better decisions about how I’ll spend my day. Whether this pans out remains to be seen, but I’m feeling good about it so far. Pause to take a look around from 30,000 ft. before committing to a destination — yeah, that’s it. If nothing else, I will have written at least one blog post today, and even if it’s devoid of interesting content that somehow still feels good.

Happy vacation, to those who are on one! — May you have a much easier time simply enjoying it than I do!

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