Category Archives: Philosophy

Listen, and then Ride

Pictures often bring back memories, same applies to music, or for that matter any comparable visual/audio/sensory inputs. So, spend enough years listening to heavy metal, and overlap those very same years with motorcycle rides, odds of them converging increases. Basically certain riffs are now for time travel, to some motorcycling experience! Listening to opening riffs of Bleak rewinds time back to that 2:00 AM lonely highway ride, actually journeying to this small college town for seeing Opeth live. Jazz-fusion like bass lines in Surface’s Echoes brings back late autumn rides, and glimpses of peninsula sunsets. Honeycomb is a lot about early summers, exploring forts around Port Townsend. Frankly, it’s not an exhaustive list; somehow these experiences got overlaid in memory. One begets the other. But, this is not intentional and they don’t happen all the time.

Often such recurring patterns motivate study of the underlying cause. Seems like modern scientific mentality was to discover these underlying causes, theorize and apply them in multiple diverse contexts. For instance, inferring Pythagoras theorem from a triangle of particular dimension is a simple such example. To paraphrase Louis Rougier, it’s a mentality to move from specific to the abstract. This idea seems relevant in every sphere.

For instance, moving from specific rules to abstract rule of law is an illustration of same concept. Instead of directing everyone to specific duties, we enabled a framework to exercise free will. Instead of celebrating good rulers, we started seeking good laws. Movement from Magna Carta to American federalism is sort of that steady evolution from specific to the abstract. In fact, seems like Federalism adds one more layer to that dispersed rule-of-law framework within multiple states, sort of higher level instrument to institutionalize development of good laws even across the states. In that spirit, if we see legislation with specific directives assigning us tasks, it’s safe to say they are primitive artifacts in an otherwise sophisticated system.

Book Review: Christopher Gehrz’s Religious Biography of Charles Lindbergh

Christopher Gehrz, Charles Lindbergh: A Religious Biography of America’s Most Infamous Pilot, Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2021, 265 pages.

Christopher Gehrz - Charles LindberghCharles Lindbergh is simultaneously the most fascinating and the most frustrating individual I have ever encountered. Since December 2019, I have been cataloging the Missouri Historical Society’s collection of over 2000 objects that Lindbergh donated following his May 1927 New York to Paris flight. The collection ranges from artifacts carried on that flight to the hundreds of medals and awards he received, personal effects, artwork, two aircraft, jewelry, and the random gifts people and governments sent him or gave him and his wife, Anne, on their travels. In studying the material culture owned by and given to Lindbergh, I have learned a lot about him. Perhaps I have learned too much.

I imagine Christopher Gehrz, professor of history at Bethel University in Lindbergh’s home state of Minnesota, might also say he has learned too much about Lindbergh in the course of writing the latest biography on the aviator. There have been many biographies written about Lindbergh since the pilot, outspoken isolationist, and conservationist died in 1974, with A. Scott Berg’s 1998 biography widely considered to be the standard text on Lindbergh’s life.

A lot has come out of the woodwork on Lindbergh since 1998, most prominently the discovery of his multiple extramarital affairs and the children he had with three German women. Over the past twenty years, historians have also unpacked Lindbergh’s legacy in light of his views on eugenics and race, as well as his anti-Semitic remarks made during his isolationist America First speeches in the run-up to World War II.

Despite the numerous books that have been written about Lindbergh over the years, one aspect of his life has been woefully overlooked, until now. Gehrz’s biography is the first to analyze Lindbergh’s life, writings, and actions through a religious lens. Perhaps you might not think religious or spiritual when you think of Charles Lindbergh (if you even think of him at all – increasing numbers of people I run across have never even heard of him). That would be fair, since Lindbergh was not an orthodox Christian. He did not believe in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, yet he was fascinated by Jesus and thought deeply about his own spirituality. Lindbergh’s Pulitzer Prize-winning 1953 book The Spirit of St. Louis drips with religious imagery, as do some of his other later writings.

Gehrz’s biography investigates Lindbergh’s beliefs and writings on Jesus, religion, spirituality, the afterlife, and how Lindbergh’s beliefs influenced his actions. Through intense archival research and analysis of published works, Gehrz unpacks Lindbergh’s spiritual complexity. Since Lindbergh’s spirituality flourished in his later years (he was only 25 when he made his famous flight), the foundational part of Gehrz’s argument rests upon the period of Lindbergh’s life spanning the 1930s until his death. The book begins by looking at the religious elements in the lives of Lindbergh’s parents and grandparents, shining a light on the rather unorthodox beliefs in which he grew up.

This book is perhaps best suited for those who already know the fundamental stories of Lindbergh’s life: his 1927 flight, his marriage to Anne Morrow, the 1932 kidnapping and murder of their son, dubbed the “crime of the century,” and Lindbergh’s involvement in the isolationist America First committee from 1940-41. Gehrz touches on Lindbergh’s early life and the 1927 flight, but he does not dwell on those periods as that is not the point of the book. Instead he briefly tells those stories through a religious lens. It is quite the literary feat to pull this narrative style off. I am fascinated and impressed by Gehrz’s skills as a writer. He tells a familiar story in a brand new way.

Gehrz looks at his subject openly and honestly.  When I sat down to read this book, I honestly expected it to be a hate-fest, but it isn’t. He simply tells the story of Lindbergh’s spiritual side in a “matter-of-fact” way, which I believe is how history should be written. Gehrz also tells this story in a very readable way. The book flows very well, and it is exceptionally well written. The biography is very focused, which makes it digestible in a way a broader biography might not be. I actually found the book to be quite the page-turner.

One of my few complaints with this tale of Lindbergh’s spirituality is one omission: there is no discussion of Lindbergh’s involvement in freemasonry. Lindbergh was a 32nd degree freemason in the Scottish Rite. He attained that level in a masonic temple in St. Louis, Missouri, when he was working as an airmail pilot prior to his transatlantic flight. I have cataloged a few artifacts given to him by that masonic group as well as others across the nation. My frustration in researching those objects was how little I could find about Lindbergh’s masonic past. About all I could find were references to it in newspapers at the time. I assume Gehrz does not mention it because either he was not aware or because there is no additional information about that part of Lindbergh’s life. There appears to be little to no related primary sources, apart from the gold masonic gifts held in the Missouri Historical Society collection. (Shameless self promotion: a coworker and I wrote a blog post about objects in the collection connected to secret societies, including a few masonic pieces:

If Gehrz had come across information related to Lindbergh’s masonic involvement, he probably would have included it. It is possible that Lindbergh never had anything to do with freemasonry after he left St. Louis. Maybe we will never know.  

One of Gehrz’s best contributions to the Lindbergh story is his analysis of Lindbergh’s journal entries from the run-up to World War II. Lindbergh published these journals in an edited form in 1970, but Gehrz dug into the original journals housed at Yale. What Lindbergh omitted from their published form says a lot.

Perhaps the most offensive thing Gehrz uncovers in his book is a journal entry from November 5, 1940 where Lindbergh, in recounting a conversation he had with friends, questions the validity of universal franchise, specifically arguing that African Americans should not be allowed to vote. In the same entry, Lindbergh discussed “the Jewish problem,” hoping to solve that “problem” without resorting to the violent racism seen in Nazi Germany (page 135).

One cannot help but be disappointed and angry with Lindbergh at such statements. Many have accused Lindbergh of being a Nazi sympathizer, which I think goes a stretch too far and misses a lot of the nuance of Lindbergh’s actions in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Nevertheless, Lindbergh, at least at this point in his life, held racist views of other human beings who are created in the image of God. He never publicly repented of such beliefs.

Gehrz’s honesty with the reader is refreshing. Rather than a distant biographer, Gehrz reminds us of his presence without inserting himself needlessly. The following is my favorite paragraph of the whole book because it perfectly encapsulates how I have felt about Lindbergh over the past twenty months of studying him (page 138):

It can’t be you! If not as intensely as his youngest child, that’s still how most of us feel when we come to this chapter in the story of Charles Lindbergh. If we have any appreciation for his historic achievements, any admiration for his courage and modesty, any compassion for the tragedies he endured, or if we simply nod along with the honest questions he asked about God, science, and mortality, we don’t want to accept that he believed what he said about Jews.

Even so, it is hard not to be a little sympathetic towards Lindbergh. The man was treated as if he were the Messiah. Gehrz has a chapter entitled “The New Christ,” where he discusses the religious language used to embrace Lindbergh following his 1927 flight. An entire monograph could be written about the reasons why Americans and Europeans embraced Lindbergh with the enthusiasm they did. Gehrz argues that the media and public created a version of Lindbergh that fit what they wanted: “Lindy.” Gehrz writes,

For all the public scrutiny that would soon make Charles Lindbergh more protective of his privacy, no one was interested in uncovering the more complicated story of their hero’s upbringing, influences, and beliefs. Whether politicians or pastors, reporters or their readers, Americans wanted a type, not a person: Lindy, not Lindbergh. (page 64)  

The media pressure on Lindbergh was intense. How is any mortal man supposed to live up to the Messiah image the public created? Add to that the kidnapping and murder of his firstborn son a few years later, which he perhaps rightly blamed on press publicity. None of this excuses his racism and lack of compassion for those he deemed lesser than himself, but it is clear that America set Lindbergh up to fail. For that I cannot help but pity him, even if I find some of his beliefs to be offensive and sinful.

The saddest part of Lindbergh’s story, however, is how it ends. Based upon Gehrz’s research and narrative of Lindbergh’s final days, I see no evidence that Lindbergh ever let go of his arrogance and pride and acknowledged Jesus as Lord and Savior. Maybe he had some sort of deathbed conversion as he died of cancer at his home on Maui, but based upon the witness of those who spent those last days with him, it does not sound like it.

In that regard, let Charles Lindbergh be a warning to us all. Lindbergh knew that scientific achievement falls far short in its attempts to explain the meaning of life, but his example also shows us that unsanctified human reason also falls short. Christopher Gehrz’s biography does an excellent job of exploring that aspect of Lindbergh’s life.

Bryan Morey

Yesterday’s Seven Thousand Years

My grandfather THOMAS MUNRO, SR ASH 1914-1919
Near the end of the Long, long road CONSTANTINOPLE January 1919 my grandfather is 5th from the right. He told me stories of the Turks (whom he hated with a passion) and visited Haggia Sophia and the ruins of city. He also had contact with Greek and Armenian refugees and he said the tales they told were heart-breaking and horrific.
Thomas Munro, Sr. in Salonika Greece APRIL 1917. He had written to my grandmother that now that the USA was in the war the Allies would surely win. He aid it was just a matter of time six months? a year? two years. He didn’t know for sure but all of the men felt hope they might now survive the war. He used to say he survived 2nd Ypres but would not have survived 5th or 6th Ypres.
The 1st Battalion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders arrive to come to the rescue of France and Belgium.
This photo has the same sources

When people say “New York” they mean “New York City” when they want to talk about the state they say “New York State.” As an exile from New York, I don’t consider myself a New Yorker and never considered myself a New Yorker. I was never accepted as a New Yorker. My family just passed through New York via Montreal, Canada, and Ellis Island. They never really were New Yorkers or even “Yankees”.

And you know what they say: being born in a garage doesn’t make you a car. I wouldn’t mind visiting it again (I haven’t been there since 2005) but I have no burning desire to return and no family and few friends to greet me.

Cianalas is the Highland word for it -that place you are connected to by heritage where joy and sadness mingle.

But it is quite true. You can’t go home again. The greatest distance between two points is time. New York, Glasgow, Argyll, Inverness, Glenties, Ferindonald represent lost worlds to me. So is Seattle, Washington where we lived for seven years.

There is some warmth of memories in all of those places places where my family lived for over one thousand years but I know them well enough to know they all belong to the past and are not likely to have any place in my future and the future of my children.

They are now part of Yesterday’s Seven Thousand Years.

We may sing of them and memory remembers the ghost of a tune and the ghost of a kiss and the Silent Ones.

But the Silent Ones greet forever as they greet no more.

Gars ye tae greet,aye. “But the broken heart it kens no second spring again thought the waeful heart cease not from its greeting.” (grieving; lamenting -that’s Scots dialect)

But then I am speaking only to myself.

“The world is hard and cruel. We are here none knows why, and we go none knows whither. We must be very humble. We must see the beauty of quietness. We must go through life so inconspicuously that Fate does not notice us. And let us seek the love of simple, ignorant people. Their ignorance is better than all our knowledge. Let us be silent, content in our little corner, meek and gentle like them. That is the wisdom of life.” (The Moon and Sixpence, W. Somerset Maugham)

Of course, the 1890 Highlands is a vanished world and so is pre-1914 Glasgow and so is Brooklyn, USA 1927-1957.

I grew up hearing about Ebbets Field ( I was there in 1955 in utero) and my cousins and sisters went there. I used to be very happy to return to New York but that is because my grandmother and mother and father lived there (plus a few college friends). But since they have passed on -it has been over 20 years so there is no homestead, no property, no address and no welcoming face at any door. The phone numbers still remembered are disconnected.

It is sad when you know your mother’s email and phone number and you know no matter how long you wait there will never be a return message or call.

Phone numbers disconnected and ideas for conversations that would never take place. I used to call my mother long distance at least once a week and she would see “this is costing money” and I told her it was cheaper than a cocaine habit and in any case I know each day is a gift. I told her I would call her now for a modest amount. The time is coming, I said to her, that no matter how much I would spend the door would still be locked and the phone disconnected.

Life and love are just a brief moment in time. My mother used to say that. I half believed it. Now I have learned it.

I thought winter would never come but winter came and the snow is general.

Even on Labor Day. Especially on a holiday. Thank God for my beloved wife! Thank God for our children and the new generation to come!


It is September 2021 and hard to believe that I have no lesson plans to prepare and not classes to go to! (I retired from teaching June 9, 2021.

I wrote (true believe it or not) a 1200 page memoir for my children and grandchildren. I have a few recorded audo clips of my mother, father and grandfather but I wish I had many more! My father used to read poetry aloud to us in English, Scots, in Gaelic, in Latin, in French, In Russian, In Spanish, in Italian and ancient Greek. He was a notable language and literature enthusiast and he would modestly discribe himself as a dilettante or enthusiast though it would be unfair to say he never had any real commitment to scholarship and knowledge. In my entire life I never met a professor who was as well read as my father who could discuss and quote at length Homer, Vergil, Burns, Byron and Shakespeare, Whitman Garcia Lorca, Antonio Machado, Cervantes, Rodrigo Caro. He was well-read in history and biography but his true passions were opera, classical drama and the great authors of fiction.

So I have many of my fathers’s books with annotations and dates but I have few recordings. In my youth cameras and phones and recorders were not ubiquitous. So I met many famous people and artists but I have few photographs (though sometimes I have authorgraps of them such as E. G. Marshall, Bill Tabbbert, Kenneth McKellar, Rita Moreno, Pat Moynihan) . So my chief ambition is to make recordings of my favorite stories and poems to share with my children and grandchildren when I have left the land of the living. I have probably been intensely aware of man’s fate and man’s mortality for many years. I have been close to death at least on two occasions and I have seen the dead. Now as I pass 65 years I become aware of the shortness of my days. No man is master of the line of his life. So I have before me a dozen days (surely) or a hundred or a thousand but can I say ten thousand days of health and mental clarity? Perhaps if I am very lucky but the truth is somewhere between 100 and 10,000. I have term life insurance until I am 77 but I hope we never collect! But then again the insurance is not for me.

And so my YOUTUBE CHANNEL is really for others especially friends and family. I don’t expect many to show much interest in an old man’s poems and memories and stories but PERHAPS my children and grandchildren will find them of some intellectual -and sentimental interest.

GOLDEN HOURS ON ANGEL WINGS. I plan to do one or two 10-15 minute recordings a week. Here is the very first.

Whom shall we blame?

Are the Jews and Capitalists really to blame for all our troubles?

But it must be said. So what’s new? As Tom Leher noted ” everybody hates the Jews.”

Jews are hardworking, well-educated and successful (by and large) SO they must be stealing more than their share of the pie so say the anti-Semites.

I have always believed (unlike Marx) that inventors, innovators, producers of goods and services, financial and business managers WHO MAKE MONEY and WHO CREATE WEALTH deserve, in most cases) they money they make and the wealth they create benefits society.

In my own hum drum life I have achieved modest investments and a modest estate but by George I EARNED IT THROUGH SAVINGS, THROUGH SMART INVESTMENTS and HARD WORK.

I never had it easy. As a first generation American I had no great inherited wealth and most importantly no ins or connections to help me along.

But it never occurred to me to blame others. If I couldn’t get a decent job in NYC or Washington DC I decided to move and try other things which is what I did. I didn’t sleep on my mother’s couch and cry in my beer and hate and resent “all the Jews”.

I thought, instead, ” What decisions are friends and acquaintances making that I could emulate? What am I doing that is insufficient or wrong? ” 

Jonathan Tobin Great article.

AND KEEP SAYING IT. Maybe a few people will wake up and take charge of their OWN COUNTRIES and their OWN LIVES.

New Rob Reed and Peter Jones Project, CYAN

Magenta’s Rob Reed and Camel’s Peter Jones come together to resurrect the band CYAN with reimagined and reworked material from the band’s debut album.
 CYAN features Luke Machin, Pete Jones, Dan Nelson
New album ‘For King and Country’ due out on Sept 24th
Keyboardist and composer Rob Reed, known for his work with Magenta, Kompendium and Sanctuary solo albums, is pleased to announce a brand-new album from Cyan – For King and Country, due out on the 24th of September 2021. 
Prior to Magenta, almost 30 years ago, Reed release three albums with his then band Cyan. Out of the ashes of that band, Magenta was borne.  Now, on this new Cyan album, Reed has rewritten, rerecorded and reimagined material from the early days of Cyan, and this time with a brilliant new lineup. The group features vocalist Pete Jones (Camel, Tiger Moth Tales), guitarist Luke Machin (Maschine, The Tangent), and bassist Dan Nelson (Godsticks, Magenta).  The band will be playing their first show at Summers End Festival, Sunday, Oct. 3rd
The album is available for pre-order here:
Watch the video for the 15-minute opening track and first single “The Sorceror” here:
Rob Reed on the new album:  “Little did I know in 1983, sitting at the school piano writing these songs, that almost 40 years later those same songs would sound like they do on this album. I remember the original Cyan, made up of school mates, pooling our money, £35 to record them at a local 4 track studio with basic equipment. It’s been amazing to finally hear the songs at their full potential, with modern recording techniques and an amazing line up of players.
“I’d held off releasing this album because I couldn’t find a vocalist to do it justice. Meeting Pete ticked that box, as soon as I heard him sing the first track. His voice just blends so good against Angharad Brinn, who I’d worked with on the Sanctuary solo albums. Having Luke play the guitar parts was just the icing on the cake. He is such a great player, with technique and feel. What a line up!”
Pete Jones had this to say about the project: “I had known about the reworking of For King And Country for a while, so it was a great thrill to be asked by Rob to work with him on the project, alongside the other amazing musicians such as Luke and Angharad. The songs are fantastic. They have a youthful and yet vintage quality to them, as well they might, given that they were first done in the early 90s. But with the benefit of Rob’s experience, they have been reworked into an album which I feel is right up there with the classics.”
1.The Sorceror
2.Call Me
3.I Defy The Sun
4.Don’t Turn Away
6.Man Amongst Men
7.Night Flight
8.For King and Country
Featured in photo:
Rob Reed
Dan Nelson
Luke Machin
Jimmy Griffiths
Peter Jones
Magenta/CYAN/TigerMothTales Website

Thoughts on Afghanistan from an anonymous military officer

I found this over at Instapundit this morning, and I won’t copy the whole thing here so as to drive the traffic to them they deserve. I will leave a few choice quotes from the piece though – but you should go read the whole thing. Nevertheless, this is a great critique of our current military “leadership” (yes, the quotes are intentional and mean what you think they mean), with some critiques of the politicians thrown in. I’m not sure if there is any difference between the two at this point.

We should blame President Bush, not for the decision to attack into Afghanistan following 9-11, but for his decision to “shift the goalposts” and attempt to reform Afghanistan society. That was a fool’s errand any student of history would have recognized. And yes, we should place blame on President Obama for his decision to double down on failure when he “surged” in Afghanistan, rather than to withdraw.

However, most of the blame belongs to the leadership of the US military, and the Army in particular. The Washington Post’s “Afghanistan Papers” detailed years of US officials failing to tell the truth about the war in Afghanistan, “making rosy pronouncements they knew to be false and hiding unmistakable evidence the war had become unwinnable.” That report was two years ago, and the stories within it began more than a decade before that. Afghanistan was, and always will be, “unwinnable”.

In fact, Afghanistan was worse than Vietnam in that at least the Vietnam War was tangentially related to the effort to stop the global spread of communism during the Cold War. Afghanistan was worse than Vietnam in another respect: the military’s leaders of the Vietnam era had no precedent to dissuade them from a disastrous path. Today’s military leadership has the precedent of not just Vietnam, but also Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Syria, and Yemen. That much obtuseness must be punished and removed from the system.

Let me conclude with one last thought: the generals, the intelligence analysts, the defense contractors, and the pundits all leveraged America’s rarest resource: the American serviceman and woman. They are the ones who fought, and sweat, and bled, and died for what is now clearly a failed strategy and a doomed mission. Even after its failure was apparent to their leaders, they continued to enlist and reenlist, largely because their superiors—the experts—assured them that success was possible. It was not. It never was. Absent American support, Afghanistan collapsed over the length of a long weekend. That is proof enough that the last 20 years were in vain, and proof enough that the system is broken from within.

As I said, hit the link and go read the whole thing.

In praise of hard working youth and men.

by Richard K. Munro

The kind who do the dirty, dangerous jobs no one wants to do.


“The sacrifices Marines make on behalf of freedom must never go unnoticed or unappreciated.”
Commandant of the Marine Corps David H. Berger
NE OBLIVISCARIS…do not forget
US soldiers stand guard as Afghan people wait at the Kabul airport in Kabul on August 16, 2021, after a stunningly swift end to Afghanistan’s 20-year war, as thousands of people mobbed the city’s airport trying to flee the group’s feared hardline brand of Islamist rule. (Photo by Wakil Kohsar / AFP)

Right now one of the dirtiest and most dangerous jobs is security at Kabul Air Port. There are US Marines there, US Airborne, British, Turkish and Australian forces. 97% are probably men though in the support sevices, today on board ships and in rear echelons there are a smattering of young brave women too. Sometimes they too are in harm’s way. I know because a Hispanic woman Marine (MP) was killed in Iraq. I have lived and worked in Bakesfield (mostly rural Kern County) for over 30 years. I have personally known hundreds of young people (95% male) go into the military. Many came to see me after serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. Many were decorated. Some were critically wounded. Some whom I knew by name and had long conversations with made the supreme sacrifice.

One Marine I knew came back to attend his grandfather’s funeral. He had already completed two combat tours in Iraq. I met him as he marched down the rural highway to the 500-acre national cemetery near Bakersfield, California. It is located near Arvin, California about 25 miles east of SR 99. The young Marine returned to duty and was killed only a few weeks later. NE OBLIVISCARIS….do not forget.


Archibald Macleish (1940)

Nevertheless they are heard in the still houses: who has not heard them?

They have a silence that speaks for them at night and when the clock counts.

They say, We were young. We have died. Remember us.

They say, We have done what we could but until it is finished it is not done.

They say, We have given our lives but until it is finished no one can know what our lives gave.

They say, Our deaths are not ours: they are yours: they will mean what you make them.

They say, Whether our lives and our deaths were for peace and a new hope or for nothing we cannot say: it is you who must say this.

They say, We leave you our deaths: give them their meaning: give them an end to the war and a true peace: give them a victory that ends the war and a peace afterwards: give them their meaning.

The young dead soldiers do not speak. [Washington, 194-]. | Library of Congress (

Yes, the Tommies and the Robertos and the Joes and Nato Turkish Askers or Mustaphas (may Allah protect them) are still out on the job stoically doing their duty to their Regiments, the Corps and the Colors of their nations. Some one always stays. Someone gets the job done. I thank God for them all. I pray for them and remember them with gratitude. NE OBLIVISCARIS…do not forget. It’s not just their lives they are risking but their young manhood and limbs and sight and health. Remember that. I remember the stories of the Princess Louise Scottish Hospital for Limbless Sailors and Soldiers (Erskin House). My Scottish grandmother, my father, my aunt and uncle visited many times 1917-1923. They visited friends and comrades of my grandfather. They visited blood relatives (my grandmother’s nephews among them). For many the Great War did not end in 1918 or 1919 but in 1920 (many died of the Spanish Flu) , 1923, 1927, 1931 and some into the 1940s. NE OBLIVISCARIS. These were the orignal “basket cases”. Those who could speak and see considered themselves the lucky ones. They could hear music. People could read to them. Some were from the Royal Navy but the majority were infantryman from the Scottish Regiments of old such as the HLI (Highland Light Infantry). Argylls, Black Watch, Cameron’s, Seaforths, The Gordons etc. Now most of these regiments are part of Yesterday’s Seven Thousand years and are fading in memory.

Erskine House in Glasgow circa 1917

NB The author is right to mention Latinos as a big part of our labor force in construction, agriculture, mining, restaurnts and the hospitality industry. He says ” This is not to slight the Latino contribution to hard and dangerous work, especially in the Southwest, but Latinos are not the ones whose demise is being celebrated.” When I worked in the construction industry (chiefly in Washington State) 99% of the workers were White Males from the ages of 17-45. I will never forget the 40 some workers who migrated from flooring, tile laying and carpeting because their knees were shot. For many the goal was to get Social Security disablity and then work at something less strenuous such as driver for Enterpirse Rent a Car. I thing I learned from those men was 1) make hay while the sun shines 2) quien joven no trabaja , viejo duerme sobre paja (if you don’t work when you are young you willl regret it when you are old i.e you could end up sleeping on straw.)

I still have reasonable strength and health but I don’t have 50% of the strength and stamina I had in my 20’s and 30’s. Heck I remember doing PT and the daily three mile run in twenty some minutes with OLYMPIC runners who did it in ? thirteen or fifteen minutes. Anyway I was always exhausted and had only about 5 minutes to rest before we marched off -they were not even winded. I never missed passing my PT and physical score but it was only by sheer determination I scored in the mid 70s. (69 was failing no ifs ands or buts). I never dropped out of any 20 mile or 30 mile hikes either. I still bear scars on my body from those early years.

I consider myself forunate that I never experienced a serious injury though once while digging a 90 foot trench under a public house project YESLER TERRACE in the semi-darkness of an underfloor with a 17 year old kid I had a somber moment or too. We had no phones of any kind. Only a worklight on an extention cord (over 100 feet) and I always carried matches and candles in my pocket just in case.

I was asked by the kid ( I was all of 26 years old) “What happens if there is an earthquake?” I thought for a monment and said, “Then we die and they will never find our bodies. Maybe hundreds or thousand of years from now they will find our skeletons like at Pompeii and Herculanueum.” “What’s that?” the high school drop-out said. “Ever hear of Mt. Vesuvius the volcano? ” “Yeah”, he said.

“What’s Mt. Ranier?” “A mountain of course!” “Yes, and also a volcano. If it blows and we are here we are goners” “So what do we do?”

I said “GET CRACKIN”, dig this trench, move the earth stock the Certainteed Insulation and install it as quick as possible. If we finish in two-three days the chances Mt. Rainer will blow are minumum.”

Sadly, that kid did not survive the summer. His pride and joy was his car. He used to go on joyrides with friends on Saturday nights. He would do wheelies in the Park N Rides. One night the cops caught him and chased him down in Kirkland. He knew if he were caught he would lose his licence and if he lost his licence he would lose his job and his car. I remember his name was Vic. He didn’t get caught. His car crashed and he, a friend and two young girls were killed. I will never forget it. And he was worried he might get buried by a volcano! When your number is up it is up, as Auld Pop used to say. He always said, “Save your luck for when it counts because sooner or later everyone rolls snake-eyes!”

Of course, I have always worked. I didn’t go to my college graduation. I had a job to do and places to go afterwards. I was in the military and worked five years in construction (insulation installation retro and new construction). I never saw a single female in my work experience outside of an office. Teaching was different; 90% of elementary teachers I met were female and about 60% of secondary teachers. I switched to working in a bank (for 1/2 the pay as I recall I was paid $7.23 an hour) because

1) for once I would have full medical benefits for my family

2) The bank offered flex time.

3) it was across the street (at that time) of Seattle University.

I knew if I were to advance my career I would need advanced degrees and expertise. At first I did not think of leaving the Bank but after five years and many outstanding performance reviews I began to realize there was no future for me at the bank either. I started studying accounting and computers for a possible MBA but realized the 5th Year Teacher Certification was a better fit for me. The first thing I did was take the CBEST (California Basic educational test in English and Math -in Washington State. I passed it the first time.

But I realized it would make it easier for me to get a job in California if I needed to go there. I never planned to leave Kirkland, Washington where we lived for seven years. But the taxes were too high (Bill Gates lived five miles a away). And my job opportunities in teaching were marginal.

Of course, I had been an honors student at NYU in history, political science, Spanish and English literature. So I rapidly passed National Teacher’s Exam in Social Studies, then English then Spanish. I was recruited at the Tacoma Dome by the Kern HS District. They express mailed me a contract April 26, 1989.

The next day I got a $10,000 bank loan (not a student loan) so I could start my MA in Spanish literature in Spain. (I didn’t work from late May and did not get another paycheck until September30 1989 but we saved and planned ahead). I paid my own way for graduate school kepting debt to an absolute minimum and paying cash whenever possible. When I moved to California in 1989 I took the test certification for the Bilingual Certificate of Competence (usually taken after an MA in Bilingual education). I passed the first time. Then I studied three summers in Spain (plus one-course independent study on Don Quixote) for 30 credits and a MA which gave me a big salary bump AND meant I could teach at Bakersfield College (which I did for summers and nights for four years) and also grade AP Spanish exams for ETS ( I did that for 14 summers).

By the way no one ever offered me a job or asked to see my resume ONCE from 1978-2017 until Rosalie Pedalino Porter asked me to submit my resume to be a candidate for the Board of ProEnglish (I was on the board of advisors for about 20 years). I was at that time almost 60 years old.

I never had a free lunch or any special privilege except what I earned (such as the title of US Marine by going through “The Quigley” and other ghastly and olorous adventures.)

Because I had savings and good credit I bought a condo in Kirkland in 1984 (which I sold in 1989 for a handsome profit) and then bought our first Bakersfield home in 1990. We moved to our present home (with central air conditioning, a library for me, shady trees, garden, patio, and pool) in 2003. We are on our way to paying it off and have the protection of Prop 13 As long as Prop 13 is the law we will stay in California. If it is ever rescinded we will put our house on the market immediately if not sooner. If I do not live to see this I have told my wife that is what she should do. I have no regrets.

The 20th century was tough for me but I survived by dint of hard work and working summers and nights(sometimes in dangerous neighborhoods). I sometimes had five or more preps in three subject areas but I never said no because it I filled a need. Others got promotions but I saved my overtime and put it into an annuity which I now have to give us some security.

I never had any preferences or “ins”; the only thing I had was a reputation for diligence and hard work and absolute reliability in over 34 years of education.

My first nine years in education I did not miss a single day. And of course I coached sports, substituted for Special Education, gym, ROTC and so forth. It is worth mentioning I also did numerous Adjunct Duties (evening concerts, basketball or soccer games) for teachers who were young mothers without asking them to take my adjunct duties and without any pay or recompense at all.

I also taught Sunday school for over 20 years (without pay or recompense). I also tutored college students and AP students on countless Saturdays without out any pay or recompense. Hundreds of these students passed AP tests in Spanish, Spanish literature, European History, AP US Government, and AP US history (including my own children I am proud to say who were all AP Scholars). I support testing and high standards. Challenge and response. Students who pass proficiency tests and AP test gain pride and self-confidence.

If you pass out diplomas like toilet paper you get Biden’s Phantom Afghan Army.

Auld Pop told me years ago “A soldier will die for the Colours but not an extra two bob a day.” I also learned that a lot of wisdom is to be found in dirty jobs and wet trenches.

Cosmograf News

We are thrilled to announce that we are making our first tentative steps into playing live gigs after our last appearance 7 years ago.  As well as our appearance headlining the Summer’s End festival on Sunday 3rd October we are also now playing the 1865 in Southampton on Tuesday 5th October.  We will hopefully be listing more dates for next year.  For tickets please visit the venue websites.

We recently put a short film on YouTube about the making of Rattrapante.  It’s a rough and ready, behind the scenes look at the long and laborious process of making a progressive rock album in the modern era. 

As with all Cosmograf albums, Rattrapante was made on a shoestring, but no compromise was made in the craft. The starting point is a worked out song template, a demo and the guest performances are added, sometimes recorded remotely. There’s always real drums, amazing mics and pre-amps, a lot of great outboard and ridiculous attention to detail in the mixing process. It takes around 1000 hours of work to make one of these albums, and this video filmed over 18months during 2019-2021, compresses that process to around 25mins. Even in that edit, there are times where ‘not a lot’ happens’, an indication of that most of that time is spent working on things that can barely be seen or heard until they come together in the finished product.Check it out at the link here.

I recently did a very detailed interview with Grant Moon an acclaimed music writer and regular contributor to the likes of PROG magazine and TOTAL GUITAR.  The interview covered nearly 2 hours and covering my career, latest album with part 2 focussing more on the tech I use in the studio and guitar setups.
You can watch it here:

A new release to my label Gravity Dream Music is the new album from Dec Burke (ex-Frost*/ Dilemma/ Audioplastik etc.) which is being released on September 24th.  I had the pleasure of mixing the album for Dec and the lead track ‘Life In Two Dimensions’ is now on YouTube and you can view that here

You can also pre order the CD and or T Shirt from our store.  The first 100 orders get an exclusive postcard signed by Dec.
 Rattrapante has now been out since March 26th.  We still have plenty of CDs left if you wish to buy but stocks of the vinyl edition are now limited.  If you would like to grab one before they sell out, click on the image below.


Thanks for your great support!