“I wouldn’t mind paying taxes, if I knew they were going to a friendly country.” Dick Gregory.

President Biden is a disappointment. He has visited scenes of natural disasters and not once flicked out rolls of paper towels.

How old do you have to be to understand why I was taught to squeeze the toothpaste tube only from the bottom?

I am wondering when Florida or some other state will ban reruns of “Star Trek.” Tony Horwitz in Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War (1998) reports that some white supremacists protested the show because to them, Mr. Spock—half human, half-Vulcan—was a coded promoter of miscegenation.

A story in a Jimmy Carter biography that I hope is true: Carter had said that he followed what his parents taught him, and he would never tell a lie. A reporter interviewed Jimmy’s mother and asked whether it was true that the Carters told no lies. Miss Lillian replied, “Maybe a little white one.” Asked for an example, Miss Lillian continued, “Remember how when you walked in here, I told you how sweet and pretty you were?”

Some people have tact and others tell the truth.

We had made it to the open sky after ascending the steep, slippery, worn, damp stairs. We were wet from the plunge in the cave’s pool, a cenote. At the picnic table next to us, two women were also toweling off. One then began putting on suntan lotion. I said that if she were planning to go into another cenote a few hundred meters away, that was mistake since she would just have to wash it off. To keep the waters in cenotes uncontaminated, swimmers must shower off lotions, perfumes, deodorants, and the like before going into the water. Even though you might think of Yucatan as a warm place, the cenote showers are colder than any mixed drinks I had there. I learned that the women were from the Netherlands. I asked to see their thumbs. They looked puzzled. I said that I heard that the Dutch all had large thumbs to plug holes in the dikes. This is a witticism I invariably drop when meeting someone from Holland because it invariably amuses me and no one else. One was a nurse and the other a social worker. They worked together in a drug addiction clinic for 18–24-year-olds. Even in the civilized Netherlands addiction destroys lives. It was sad that they said that fentanyl was becoming an increasing problem.

A boss a while back was being interviewed on television. He said that, of course, no one actually made the median salary. Yet another reason, I thought, to get out of the job I was in.

An elderly woman at the pharmacy was deciding which of her drugs she should take home because she could not afford them all. I felt very sadly American as the scene unfolded.

A few years back an observer said, “Our forefathers objected to taxation without representation. Now we would be glad to get taxation without misrepresentation.”


Would you be whining about your work if you had an incredibly powerful job, could have it as long you wanted, work full-time nine months of the year, and make enough to put you in the top 2% of earners with the chance to make even more? And yet here is John Roberts, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, publicly bemoaning that Americans question the legitimacy of his Court. Apparently, he is so unhappy that so many see his work as illegitimate that he is going to resign. Just kidding.

“Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving wordy evidence of the fact.” George Eliot.

I have listened to the summer sounds. I take my coffee and reading material to the porch as the light is dawning and pause periodically to listen to the bird songs, even though I cannot identify any of the calls. After dinner and dusk, I take a book to the porch and pause in my reading to hear the symphony of the cicadas. During the daylight I hear deer, chipmunks, squirrels, and rabbits rustling the dry leaves in the woodlot next to my reading spot. But, unfortunately, during the day I also hear the summer sounds of lawn mowers, weed whackers, leaf blowers, and backhoes.

It must be a sign of age: I think of my youth as all the time before I was sixty-eight.

A fact that surprised me: The first medal awarded to an American at the 1936 Berlin Olympics was for art. Art competitions were part of the summer games until 1948.

Another fact that surprised me: Iceland has no ants.

A recurring question that mystifies me: Why are Americans so besotted with the un-American institution of the British royalty?

Sometimes when conservatives rail against critical race theory they betray complete ignorance of what it is. Perhaps they oppose it because they think that it is a system for picking horses.

 “In the middle of the twentieth century, any Mississippi schoolchild who achieved an eighth-grade education had been exposed to a state history textbook [Mississippi through Four Centuries] that told of the glories of the Klan. In discussing Reconstruction, it said the Klan whipped and even killed Blacks ‘who had been giving trouble in a community. . . . The organization helped the South at a difficult time.’” Curtis Wilkie, When Evil Lived in Laurel: The “White Knights” and the Murder of Vernon Dahmer. (2021).

Tony Horwitz, in Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War (1998), reports that a visitor to a civil war battlefield asked a park ranger why so many Civil War battles were fought on national parks.

The philosopher said, “Half of wisdom is being silent when you have nothing to say.”