Category Archives: Whimsy


I like Bill. Bill McKinley, that is, the guy who’s been hanging out in the Arcata Plaza since 1906. People who want him removed try to associate him with various crimes to which he is not connected. He should be removed, they tell us, because in the 1860s indigenous people were being sold in the Arcata Plaza. But in the 1860s young Bill was not selling slaves in Arcata. He was thousands of miles away, fighting to free slaves in … Continue reading

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Doug’s “Coming Out” Letter

Here is the text of a letter that appeared in April 21, 2016 edition of the North Coast Journal in which I proclaim (admit?) that I do not accept the present scientific view of reality. Editor: In an interesting riff on the insanity defense, my friend Douglas George (mailbox April 14) comes down on one side of a presently unanswerable question. I am here to present the other side. Douglas argues that what we call “consciousness” is the accidental byproduct … Continue reading

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A Late Quartet, movie recommendation

If you enjoy classical music and character-rich stories don’t miss A LATE QUARTET, a movie that arrived Friday at the Minor in Arcata. Starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Christopher Walken, Mark Ivanir and Catherine Keener it is directed by Yaron Zilbeman. The Fugue, a famous string quartet, is turning twenty-five, and like a marriage or a family that has been together for a long time, cracks are beginning to show. In spite of the A-list actors the movie is an ensemble … Continue reading

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Many are criticizing the National Rifle Association’s response to the recent shootings in Newtown, Connecticut. I wish to say a few words in defense of this organization. The NRA statement that “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” is a core American belief, a slogan that belongs alongside “e pluribus unum” and “In God we Trust.” This has been true from the men who gathered at Lexington and Concord … Continue reading

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Among those of us waiting on the river bank one was a drunken woman. The rest of us understood but she was still confused, demanding of us: “Where am I? Why am I here?” We ignored her, as if she wasn’t there at all. Finally the ferryman emerged from the mist poling his raft. He pushed up to the small pier and motioned to us. We crowded onto the raft but the woman hesitated. “Step on, sister,” the ferryman said. … Continue reading

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This piece began as a letter to the North Coast Journal. It was written in response to an interesting article by the publisher Judy Hodgson that appeared in the November 24, 2011 issue of the Journal under the title PUBLISHER’S NOTE: “What’s it all about?” I had been playing around with these thoughts and the article gave me a chance to clarify my thinking on the subject. The letter was rejected for being too long. I have resubmitted a shorter … Continue reading

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