Geoffrey Jones

 

Days Gone By

 

1505, 2022

Words Words Words

May 15th, 2022|0 Comments


Antidisestablishmentarianism has for years been considered the longest word in the English language (excluding technical words). Now when you get to words of a technical nature it is beaten all hollow. For example the word which begins “Methionylthreonyl,,,,,,,,,,,,( and ends )….. isoleucine”, from beginning to end is composed of 189,819 letters. However some argue it is not actually a word.

I can guarantee that someone wishing to appear highly intelligent would lose points trying to employ either of these words as part of his or her daily conversation, (particularly the second one). So what is my point?

Loving reading and writing naturally makes a person anxious to show off the word trophies we snare and add to our repertoire. But at what point do we appear foolish rather than smart for these efforts?

It might be stretching it to say. “I’m highly perturbed and discommoded by your unseemly behavior” when it could much more simply be worded “You’re being a jerk and I’m put out.” But then again we have to go to the Urban dictionary for the meaning of “put out”. Which brings us back to “discommoded” again.

The more I think about it the more language reminds me of bicycle riding or swimming. We’re doing fine until we think about it. If we think about it we might fall off or sink.

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2604, 2022

Thoreau’s Path

April 26th, 2022|0 Comments

“As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.”
— Henry David Thoreau

Thoreau remembered the old Indian trails all over New England and they suggested comparisons with the ways of the mind. My father could still recognize those “dents in the ground” as a child I walked with him on some of those ancient ways. I never realized then, how rare such seeing was.

As I look back on it I more than ever appreciate the mind of an historian who doubled as an archaeologist. There were no local native campsites, ceremonial mounds or early American cellar holes that hadn’t come under his scrutiny. My father mapped out a world invisible to the untrained eye and wrote and lectured about it.

The whole world is connected by such well worn walkways but we have to travel and re travel them in order to keep our way clear. It is only since we have been diverted from these paths in recent years that we have begun to go astray. The old ways always led us forward to build on our accumulated learning. The new ways, too often, are like wrong turns in a maze that only lead to closed hedges and high walls.

Even the roads “less travelled by…” were still roads. And some of the wisest among us have reported on their journeys for the good of all. Out of all this we built our religion, history, literature, and our value system. We cannot allow that “deep mental path” to be bulldozed away by a few years of spiritual, moral and ethical laxity.

So here’s to returning to those old pathways and all the gains that lay along the way as we walked. Remembering the centuries we remember ourselves. And how far we have truly come.

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2204, 2022

Another Spring

April 22nd, 2022|0 Comments

No matter what we suffer, or have suffered, Spring always offers a door to hope and a renewal of faith. It is the one season that hasn’t put all its cards on the table.
Summer’s turbulence, Fall’s decline, Winter’s cold are all more predictable than the advent of Spring.
When Vachel Lindsay, the poet, wrote “Spring Came on Forever” in his Chinese Nightingale poem he was speaking of a literal Heaven on Earth.
Walking in the early Spring is a very special experience, the temperature is comfortable, the odor of early foliage is all about. The first rays of morning sunlight are like brushstrokes painting the fields with deeper and richer hues, day by day. And the possibilities of life seem endless.
Just as the countryside renews, so do we. We know more fully at this time of year what we are capable of, and with that assurance, we go out and make those things happen. One after another, as we ought always to do.
This year, of all years is a good one to use all this special energy for the best purposes possible. Time to do “spring cleaning” on a national as well as personal scale. Let’s get the word out there to the folks who are supposed to represent us that we want things cleaned up now. We want a nice shiny polish given to our democracy and our American way of life. We want our country to sparkle , at least as brightly as our automobiles do.
With all this in mind I really believe that with a good Spring start this can be the year we really make the headway for the good we’ve been needing. A year to look back on from the colder months with a new pride. Wow, I’ve been waxing quite lyrical, haven’t I? See what Spring can do for a person.
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1404, 2022

The DNA “Good guys”

April 14th, 2022|0 Comments

Geoffrey Jones
Days Gone By

Five years ago we had a big week for the DNA “Good Guys.” These resourceful scientists announced not one but two important breakthrough . Interestingly enough both announcements came the same day.

In the first story we are informed, glibly, that a group of American scientists had been creatively working with healthy human embryos and had succeeded in altering them in a laboratory so that if carried full term they would be free of certain illnesses. (The illness approach certainly makes the whole thing seem so benign, nothing up the sleeves of these hard working do-gooders.) They really never intended all this as more than an inquisitive experiment; certainly no thoughts of creating future “designer babies” or an elite super race. Farthest thing from their minds. No “Gattaca” and “Logan’s run” concepts here, surely not.

A little later in the day more DNA good guys announced that sad as it may be they are hard at work proving the Bible wrong. God didn’t harshly judge Sodom and Gomorrah. DNA scraped from ancient bones found at digs in the Lebanon area “prove” that current Lebanese are similar to the Canaanites. So the work of those wanting to design us to fit their prescribed ideas need not be hampered by any old fashioned Biblical notions of morals and ethics. It’s all disproven by modern science, they imply. They trust the science.

They are forgetting perhaps that archaeological digs also discovered the ruin of Numeira near the dead sea which WAS definitely burned to a crisp thousands of years ago leaving bodies buried where they fell and undoubtedly igniting nearby brimstone deposits. These would have caught fire as a result of the flames and explosions that destroyed that spot. It’s pretty obvious these people want to have their cake and eat it too, by appearing good guys while their vile work goes on, but I must say that the way they release news stories their agenda is pretty clearly showing.

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604, 2022

The Mayor of Shark City

April 6th, 2022|0 Comments

I watched the terrific film “Jaws” again recently and I realized that in light of my readings in the works and experiences of Dr. Philip Zimbardo and Christina Maslach, ( The Lucifer Effect, Why good People do bad things) the film took on new and deeper meanings. 

The character of the mayor, Larry Vaughn, played by Murray Hamilton, is really pivotal in the drama. The mayor is in actuality a nice guy, a family man who means well for his little community. “Amity, as you know, means friendship” he states to the television audience in one interview. He wants to see his village prosper during its summer high point. 

The concept of a killer shark invading a peaceful seaside summer resort is well suited to the studies of character and reactions to evil the story generates. How the characters react gives us our lesson in human complexity. 

The first shark victim, Crissy Watkins, makes a meaningful sacrificial figure. Her death should have sparked everyone to action and to a speedy resolution of the danger. Briefly it heads that way under the efforts of Sheriff Brody, (Roy Sheider) but only briefly. Before he can do a full scale closing of the beaches, the mayor and city council confront him with the statement “Amity is a summer town, we need summer dollars.” At the town meeting that follows, the mayor holds the beach closing down to “only 24 hours.” The local business people are only too glad to see their tourist customers put at risk and the story suppressed, as long as their businesses can prosper as usual (more good people doing bad things). A famous shark fisherman, (Quint played by Robert Shaw) offers to help catch the shark but is put off by the mayor. 

The beaches are re-opened and the mayor walks about insisting important citizens go in the water to set a good example. Then comes a major turning point; Little Alex Kintner, only child of the spinsterish, Mrs Kintner, is savagely attacked by the Shark and eaten. A poignant moment is where, dressed in mourning, she confronts Chief Brody and, after slapping him, tells him “you knew all this, and yet my boy is dead, my boy is dead. I just wanted you to know that…” “I’m sorry, Martin, She’s wrong, ” The mayor says as she walks away “No she’s not ..” Brody answers . Following this a local fisherman’s boat and decapitated head is found by an expert from the oceanographic institute, (Matt Hooper played by Richard Dreyfuss). When Hooper confronts the mayor and suggests calling in the coastguard he is also given the brushoff.

The fourth victim, thrown from a rowboat while trying to warn Sheriff Brody’s children and their friends, is finally the catalyst to action. Brody corners the mayor and demands he hire the shark fisherman, Quint, to end the Shark problem. The shaken mayor points out after signing the agreement “Martin, my kids were on that beach too.” The mayor had been “A good person, doing bad things..” After terrible losses he finally saw the light. 

In the culmination of the film Dreyfuss’s character (Matt Hooper) is lost at sea and Capt. Quint is killed by the shark. The sheriff, who cannot even swim, rises to the level of a hero and overcoming his earlier trepidation, saves the day by killing the shark. Hooper reappears from under a ledge and the two push floats back to shore. 

For me a great lesson here is how people in power by being caught up and focusing on control, business and money, can sink us by leaving us open to great dangers. In our country the eroding of our constitution and our freedoms so big corporations and unscrupulous politicians can control us and illegally mine our personal lives like ore, is a pretty dangerous shark. We need to think like Sheriff Brody, when he finally moved to action, whether we can swim, or not. The “Mayor’s” just not getting the job done.

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2803, 2022

Sign Here Karl

March 28th, 2022|0 Comments

Geoffrey Jones
Days Gone By

I always enjoyed the film  “Big Fish…” it gave me many smiles with its clever story telling style..

One scene I remember well is the one where the Circus ringmaster, (played by Danny DeVito) meets the gentle giant Karl, (who is made to look about twenty foot tall) and instantly wants to hire him.

A small clown who is handy fetches a contractual agreement and the ringmaster asks Karl: “Tell me Karl, have you ever heard the term “involuntary servitude ?” “No?”  “Unconscionable contract?” Karl again answers “No.” The Ringmaster hands him the contract to sign. Naturally we all give a little chuckle at Karl’s naivete.

This all comes to mind in relation to the many contracts we sign or agree to daily on our phones and computers. Virtually every site we go to prods us, not to mention every tech company that claims to “serve” us (they do indeed “serve us up“ to their many business partners and myriads of others). “Click this and give all your contacts access to your personal data so we can better serve you.” We use cookies so that we and all our affiliates will better understand you and better understand all your personal needs.” If that language seems a bit vague wait till you get to the real small print.

And thanks to the European Union’s efforts more and more of us are actually doing that, grueling a job as it is, to be actually reading our contracts and faced with the scope of the surveillance that has been applied to us. We’ve been taking the shiny candy and ice cream of tech for years now and been way too easily distracted by these tasty tidbits to recognize the hidden poisons to our privacy and individuality that were tucked neatly out of sight the whole time.

Well thank goodness for the EU, they have gotten the ball rolling!  I wish we might have attended to this a lot earlier. There is still a long way to go, but unlike Karl, the fictional character of Big Fish, we are real life people. Hopefully we will continue forward with eyes a lot wider open from now on.

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1603, 2022

A Few People Who Changed Everything

March 16th, 2022|0 Comments

Geoffrey Jones
Days Gone By

The central characteristic of this kind of person is that they make changes, big ones, and almost always for the better. They are the “Beginners” Walt Whitman wrote about. They create new beginnings to rescue humanity from the negativity and regimentation we fall into over the centuries. We are very familiar with them and the force they have been in our lives. For some of us perhaps a bit too familiar, in the sense that new movements have sprung up to diminish the heroes of our earlier history. To cut them down to size, as it were. But they will survive these onslaughts. They always do.

Here in Tennessee we have a stellar example in the work of Miles and Zilphia Horton, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks and the history of the Highlander Folk School in Monteagle during the 1950s. 

The “Highlander Folk School” had been set up in the 1930s by Myles Horton and his wife Zilphia. The school was modeled after schools in Denmark where advanced programs of social change were taught. Highlander focused on racial equality and human cooperation. The McCarthy era during which the term Communist or pinko was applied to anyone who urged for racial equality and worker’s rights, was in full swing. The school was painted in the media by some as simply a “Communist training camp.” Even with all the efforts to besmirch the school’s reputation, meeting took place involving the Horton’s, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Pete Seeger and others that led to the solidification of the civil rights movement, the incorporation of “We shall overcome” as the movements anthem, and in time the movement flowering fully in the massive march on Washington . The story of the synergy impelled by this group is a major chapter in American and world history. And it took form here on Monteagle mountain.

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1103, 2022

“We Have Met the Enemy and He is Us”

March 11th, 2022|0 Comments

Geoffrey Jones
Days Gone By

Walt Kelly made his famous statement about the enemy through his cartoon character, Pogo Possum in 1970. It called attention to environmental concerns of Earth Day. It paraphrased Oliver Hazard Perry’s message about the battle of Lake Erie in 1813, “We have met the Enemy and they are Ours.” Today it is probably as well known as Perry’s famous quote.
The quote came to my mind this week as I read from “The Lucifer Effect” and other writings and lectures of Dr Philip Zimbardo, creator of the famous Stanford University Prison Experiment.
The findings of Dr Zimbardo are of such a breakthrough nature that they generate feelings of both fear and awe. They generate fear because they force us to recognize the potential for evil and wrongdoing present, (and not even that far beneath the surface) in each and every one of us.
The Stanford experiment demonstrated this when a group of well educated college students within literally a matter of hours, degenerated into roles of cruel oppressive jailers and masochistic prisoner victims. The effects were so terrible that Christina Maslach, then a student herself, was appalled and demanded that the experiment be stopped. The experiment was only six days in to a projected two week period.
Because it was so short lived, the experiment might have been thought a failure but it was in this that it succeeded. The findings were just too terrible. But the findings were true.
Zimbardo’s work is some of the most important in our world today. If we are ever to understand problems in oppressive government, wrongs in the work place and schools, and in the ongoing examples of domestic abuse we read about, and that we often don’t read about because they have gone unrecognized.
In his work, “The Lucifer Effect,” he ends on a very positive note. He describes examples of the “Heroic Imagination” that inner force for good that can cause any of us to act heroically when faced with what we know to be a great wrong. It is his hope that cultivating this part of us may offset much of our negative leanings.  We can learn to think more about how we think. As we recognize the impulses in our lives to both evil and good behavior we can move toward the positive. I encourage everyone to look up Dr Zimbardo’s works and consider his dramatic message.
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303, 2022

Cover to Cover

March 3rd, 2022|0 Comments

Geoffrey Jones
Days Gone By

I am thinking this morning about a message of an old friend of mine, James Ulmer, a minister but also a book lover and for many years owner of “the Unique Bookshop” which was located on the main street of Mt. Juliet, Tennessee during quieter and less tech driven times.

Jim shared these thoughts with me and I share them with you. 

Cover to Cover, Thoughts in progress:  Holding a Hardback book in hand… reading stories of long ago… novels that engage the mind to think of knights in shining armor or the story of Black Beauty. Letting the mind explore without the back light of a device, but rather with the lamp beside a chair or a couch, or perhaps swaying in a lazy swing hanging from a tree with the dappling sunlight rays fluttering across the pages.

The lost art of collecting books and placing them on your own book shelf, now lies in the hidden chip of a device clothed in the darkness of a black hand held metal box that is cold and does not offer the same feeling as when you could not wait to turn the page in anticipation, or feared to flip the page over as if the words would leap off the page.

I come from that period of time, yet I too am often found reading a book or an article on the Internet. However, I long to read the written page, as I gaze upon my bookcases still filled with titles, stories, lives, waiting to be grasped hold of as if they are fading away because of the light from a lifeless screen across the room. Voices crying out to be heard…even smells that come from the pages of the ink from the printing presses long gone by now.

I am thinking that reading a book is like planting a garden….you have to turn the leaves to experience what is hidden beneath the cover…”     

 Amen, James, Amen. We have to consider the losses we suffer as we hurry to follow the directives in this age of technological bullying. While tycoons blast out “What makes us more profit is what is good for you!” we should stop and consider more. And get a bit more careful about what we choose to lose.

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2302, 2022

Annie Oakley’s Saying

February 23rd, 2022|0 Comments

Geoffrey Jones
Days Gone By

When I was a kid, one of the great western shows I watched was about Annie Oakley, the famous sharpshooter. Annie was played by an actress named Gail Davis. One of Annie’s famous sayings was “Two wrongs don’t make a right.”

I think this is actually a very Christian approach. Perhaps close to what was meant by “If a man steal your cloak, give him your coat also.”

The bottom line of this wisdom is that when bad acts spawn more bad acts evil only increases. The buck has to stop somewhere.

It seems like a big risk not to resist evil. And yet it is amazing how often doing the better way pays off.

Many times hard feelings can escalate from nothing more than a bad mood or a headache. The person who is upset or hurting snaps at the other person and pretty soon the battle is on.

“Good catch” is a common sports term. Whether applied to catching a baseball or making right an oversight or error. It’s a term that is equally applicable to our daily lives. If we slowly build the habit of catching ourselves in thoughtless speech and emotion how much richer life becomes. How much more pride we can take in our thinking when it includes good sized helpings of tolerance and forgiveness.

So next time I’m overtired or uncomfortable and inclined to be short with a friend I’m going to think of Annie Oakley. Whether the saying came from the original Annie herself, or the writers for that show, it was a good one.

1002, 2022

The Pride and The Passion

February 10th, 2022|0 Comments

Geoffrey Jones
Days Gone By

A while back, in a conversation I was stretching to find words for a point I was trying to make when I remembered a novel by C. S. Forester “The Gun” which appeared in the 1930s.
The novel is one of Foresters many historical novels. set during the Napoleonic wars. It tells the story of a group of Spanish rebels who want to take back a city held by Napoleon’s army. (Avila).
The novel, by the way, was the basis for the film “The Pride and The Passion”  with Cary Grant, Sophia Loren and Frank Sinatra, From the 1950s.
The rebels find a gigantic discarded cannon, perhaps the largest weapon in the world. The cannon represents to them the hope of a way to regain their great city of Avila, and their homeland.  It is a  tremendous undertaking for the rag-tag group to both conceal and move the weapon the distance to the walls they mean to breach.
Aided by an English Naval officer, who knows how to properly fire the great gun, the group under every sort of difficulty slowly pull the mighty cannon toward Avila.
After many trials, accidents and adventures (including hiding the gun in a tree, and later in a church) the group finally arrives. The range of the cannon is greater than the French cannons firing on the crowd so the plan is to breach the walls and then rush the city.
The rebels realize they will lose many of their people in the attack, but the dream of freedom is strong enough for them to move forward anyway. The cannon is positioned and fired. (This is the high point of the story). The spectacular hits smash the walls again and again and gains for them the path to victory, dearly won by their hard work and faith.
I believe it is this way in all victories from oppression, whether military, like at Avila, or Lexington and Concord, whether politically, as in Fascism vs Liberty and freedom. Whether morally and spiritually, as in love vs hate.
That vision stuck with me for years as the epitome of what we, as people in all walks of life, seek to attain. To so prepare ourselves that our message, when delivered, is sure to hit its mark and pave the way for a new understanding. And I believe, from the lessons of history, when we continue forward with that kind of concerted faith. It always will.
2701, 2022

Retrogress

January 27th, 2022|0 Comments

 

Geoffrey Jones
Days Gone By

I hear the word “Progress” used so often these days in the morning internet news that I thought I might offer equal time to a word we seldom hear, but a word that could well be substituted for the word progress in at least every second article. And that word is “retrogress” and here are some of the reasons I feel this way.)

“Progress” is usually employed in a sort of judgmental way by the “news” in this sort of context. “It’s obvious we can’t stand in the way of tech progress, the fact that scientists will soon be “downloading our consciousness into machines is as inevitable as the sun rising in the morning…” “Whatever we may think this progress must go on. Science assures us of this.”

Modern “news” is so helpful in comparison to the news of a few years back in that we are saved the effort of thinking at all. The new news not only tells us what to think but assures us we have no choices at all beyond that! Relaxing isn’t it? We could just snooze away and those folks could employ “sleep teaching” on us.

Well in case you have some life left in you, and I suspect many of us do, we might consider this…. The dreamers who were the forerunners of the “tech age” back in the 1800s would not only roll over but outright flip in their graves if they could see where their concepts have gone.
Charles Babbage and Ada Byron (the poet Byron’s daughter) would be horrified at the base and totalitarian ways the computers are being used to brain wash us and to spy on our personal lives. The flimsy structure of modern computers to keep “planned obsolescence” going would also puzzle them. (Babbage’s first example was built of the strongest materials possible.)
Ada Byron wrote, at that time, of the dangers of the Anylitical engines (computers) “being unable to differentiate about user entered “untrue information.” She was certainly far seeing in this. Her final word on the subject was “The analytical Engine has no pretensions whatever to originate anything. It can do whatever we know how to order it to [do]. It can follow analysis; but it has no power of anticipating any … truths. Its province is to assist us in making available what we’re already acquainted with.” (The reason she felt this way was because she lived in an age in which faith in a larger spiritual picture still emanated from our individual souls and conscience, and the flip of the dice approach to technology had not even been dreamed of.
Faith Ethics and human self respect still reigned supreme. Ray Bradbury stated the same concept in modern times when in his “Machines Beyond Shylock” poem he said “Stuff right get right, Stuff rot, get rot, For no more power lies here, than man himself has got….”When Byron, Shelley, Mary Shelley and a couple others did a think tank at Byron’s Palazzo in 1816, and Mary came up with “Frankenstein” as the story of a scientist who develops an early form of “Artificial Intelligence” in the form of a creature built patchwork quilt style out of body pieces and electrical charges, the message was quite obviously spelled out in the ending in which the abomination is floated away on an iceberg. (No message there about how we must, because of scientific progress, accept such things as our future blessing).

Which thought returns me to the opening of my article. Retrogress, is a word which means (and I take some of its specific meanings here to clarify “To move backward into an inferior state or degenerate.”

I suspect loaded deck internet flunkies wouldn’t enjoy this word being substituted for their favorite “progress” the stories might sound more like “Modern tech science continues to retrogress and degenerate, apace.”
Wow, they wouldn’t like that at all! Would they? …… I’m glad.
 Appreciate your comments .
1701, 2022

Why We Like Outlander

January 17th, 2022|0 Comments

When I wrote this three years ago, I little realized we were about to be hurtled into an ongoing nightmare that would last until now. It makes the simple human qualities of Outlander, all the more poignant.
While many modern self help guru’s have touted living in the present, in the “NOW’ as they have put it, as the proper way to live in this modern world. “One must live for self and forget about history and what is shaping for the future.”
These things lead to discomfort, they say.. Some other philosophical thinkers have expounded on a very different approach. Colin Wilson, the writer who was a member of England’s “angry young men” following the second World War, was such a one.
Wilson wrote a book called “The Outsider” using great creative writers as examples he noted that some of the greatest, who he designated as “Outsiders,” are aware not just of the present day but of “other places and other times.” They possess the key insight to not be limited by the illusion of the moment but to expand into eternity, as it were. It may not be a comforting pleasure trip, being an outsider, but that quality, exemplified in creators like Van Gogh, T.S.Eliot, H.G. Wells, William Blake and Earnest Hemingway is what makes us, as human beings, distinctly unique.
Which brings us to Outlander.  Outlander, the series, is now in its 6th season. I truly enjoy this production which is like an epic film with very high quality acting, story-line, locale and Cinematography, which goes on and on most wonderfully. It is based on the novels of Diana Gabaldon.
The series tells the story of Claire Randall, (played by Caitriona Balfe) a former military nurse from World War two who, with her husband Frank, (played by Tobias Menzies) visit Scotland in 1946. There she finds herself transported through a time portal at an ancient site to the year 1743.
Once she understands her predicament Claire, who is extremely intelligent and has a previous knowledge of history, is able to bluff her way into appearing to be an English woman who had been captured by Scottish Jacobites. She is escorted to an English military headquarters where her adventures in time and history begin.
Her arrival in Scotland just a couple of years before the battle of Culloden puts her very much in the thick of things. Early on she meets James “Jamie” MacKenzie Fraser, (played by Sam Heughan) who becomes her Highland lover. The ongoing story of Claire and her mates and friends in two different time periods has steadily grown in popularity over its years of production.
It is not a pretty story, though it has great beauty. It is a violent story, though it has great love and tenderness. One is given few moments to settle into the “Now” in this story. All that we don’t want to look at is here and all that we most want to look at, is here.
We must look through Claire’s eyes and realize the dilemma of considering she might actually be able to change history by knowing in advance where it is headed and if she could change it what then?
Outlander deals with very basic life experience with family, with friendship, with loyalty, with love at its deepest and best. These concepts touch the core of the human condition, they form a kind of spiritual responsibility our heroes and our own consciences do not shy away from. Our own natures and our history cement this.
We all time travel when we rethink the past and hope to improve the future through our choices. In watching I came to realize that we still have much of our human bravery, we would not want to watch, and absorb so much realness. I’m very proud of us for that.
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601, 2022

Creating the Key

January 6th, 2022|0 Comments

Geoffrey Jones
Days Gone By

It was not his actual name, but people call him “Turtle.” He didn’t tell me why but I suspect it might be a play on the classic of  “the steady one who wins the race.”

He opened the first shop in Hundred Oaks Mall years ago. Turtle  was a locksmith. He knew how to create a key where modern technology fell short.

Years ago he helped me. I had foolishly been driving around with only one key and no key chain. By the law of averages I  would be in trouble one day. That day arrived.

First I tried the car dealership. The  car was too old to make a key using the vin number. If I could find the special code they could make one… but the special code was no where to be found. I had searched and searched. Turned my car upside down and sideways. No luck.

I asked a neighbor and he told me “The best one around to help you is Turtle,” so Turtle was contacted.

Turtle came out on the windiest day of the year! Everything he needed for his work was in his white van, but the main tool was a  small file.

It was a wonder to see him do his work. Sort of like a living metaphor. He filed and tested, filed and tested. As he went along the key came closer and closer to being the right fit…. Finally it worked.

I remember thinking “this is what life is about. We sort out all the wrong fits until we find the one that is our own.”

Turtle charged me an amount that was half anyone else would have. And did twice the work. “This is the old fashioned method” he said.

We need more Turtle’s in this modern world. They are the people who teach us how much we’ve lost of the old direct ways. Thank you Turtle, for getting me back on the road!

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2912, 2021

Staying Upbeat for the New Year

December 29th, 2021|0 Comments

Geoffrey Jones
Days Gone By

Sometimes it can be a job to stay upbeat. It’s worth the trouble however. Keeping an eye on the prize makes all life brighter.

I remember Walt Whitman somewhere in his later writings, told about his efforts to keep age and infirmity from creeping into his daily writing. He suffered considerable ill health in his last years. In spite of it all and through it all Whitman realized the value of positive thinking. His “Death Bed” edition of Leaves of Grass contained the mintage of his life’s wisdom.

I got to thinking about this the other day at a diner where I was having my early coffee. Two older gents were swapping complaints about life. Nothing suited these two fellows it seemed. Young people were all off the track. No one knew how to dress or act. The whole surrounding world was in a mess except for these two complainers by their standards.

I hope I can keep from slipping into this sort of thinking. I know I often find good messages from earlier times but I hope I don’t reach the point where the present age seems hopeless.

One message I might have for the two complainers is to look for things to appreciate and enjoy in this present time. If you appreciate earlier times and thinking look for all the wonderful holdovers and new spins on these things that are here, there and everywhere.

Picnics, Hikes, Historic sights, Museums, farms, County fairs, music, dancing, friendship, family love. Holidays. And much more.

I’m grateful for my friends,  family  and so much in this life. I hope I never wake up one day to think otherwise. I don’t plan to.

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912, 2021

Angel/Priest Event of a Few Years Ago

December 9th, 2021|0 Comments

In the book of Hebrews , 13:2, appears the verse “Don’t forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels…”

A few years ago a young woman travelling on Missouri Route 19, Katie Lentz, was in a terrible automobile accident, her car was crushed all around her and soon emergency workers were working against time to free her from the mangled wreckage.

It was taking too long to complete the rescue. The emergency workers knew that time was of the essence. Katie was getting much weaker and they knew they might have only a matter of minutes to complete their work.

They prepared to take the risk of setting the car back upright so that they would have a better chance of success.

Then Katie, who was aware of her weakening condition from her multiple injuries, asked if someone would pray with her, out loud. Someone came forward and said “I will.” Those who looked to see who spoke saw a man dressed in clerical black and with a priest’s collar. He had white hair and was around six foot tall. He had a container of holy oil and anointed Katie and several of the workers as he prayed.

Katie grew stronger with the comfort of the prayer and soon, with the help of additional rescuers, she was free of the wreckage and able to be air-lifted to a hospital. The exhausted workers turned to the priest to thank him for his inspiration, but he was nowhere to be seen, The road had been cordoned off far from the crash site but no one could be seen along it in either direction. Close to seventy pictures were taken of the rescue effort. But he did not appear in any of them.

Many believed an Angel had appeared. Some a traveling priest who preferred anonymity at such a time. One thing is certain; This was a miracle of the best and clearest sort. No sooner had Katie declared her need for that prayer, then he appeared. When he had done what was needed he quietly vanished. (I must add here that a bit later the news informed us it was a living priest, A Father Dowling, who was such a miraculous instrument, but the ending of my article I still hold to more than ever…)

By the anonymity that father Dowling kept that week we were able to test our faith. We were equally comfortable with the thought of an Angelic manifestation or an inspired priest. As the local fire chief said of those choices we were “good with it” either way.

I can’t tell those of you who read my column how happy I am to retell such a story of inspiration so important to this season and for our troubled times. Something that helps restore our daily faith in our direct connection to our creator. It is truly the “good news” that will lead us out of this “slough of despond” in which we so often find ourselves. It shows us that the strength is here to renew the world and not just have to let the wrongness go by with no hope of transformation.

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3011, 2021

Holiday in Full Swing

November 30th, 2021|0 Comments

Geoffrey Jones
Days Gone By

Well, the holidays are in full swing. We’ve enjoyed our Thanksgiving and the following “Black Friday.” (I was thrown off beam for a bit reading the story online that a Mr. Black was the cause of the name only to find that was a complete fantasy.) The factor of business going into the black is still the best explanation for the term.

Christmas and New Years are coming up next. Christmas has the biggest impact of any holiday and we can feel its presence in the air as surely as we do the advent of a weather front. Walking in town or in the mall we hear bits and pieces of almost every Christmas Carol ever written. Like a vast montage of sights and sounds the upcoming day permeates the atmosphere. All roads lead to Christmas from here out. Like Scrooge we become happy in spite of ourselves.

And too, the “vibration” of approaching Christmas is like nothing else we experience in the year. I enjoy describing but this is one concept that defies description. The closest way one might put it would be that now, at this time, we are the least afraid to share the love we have inside us. We approach our best selves and however “Scrooge-like” we may be the rest of the year, now we give ourselves permission to be at our very best.

This special time let’s stretch ourselves and see how much of the Christmas spirit we can hold on to for the upcoming year. I know we won’t be sorry.

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2211, 2021

Thanksgiving…

November 22nd, 2021|0 Comments


Every year we look forward to Thanksgiving as it approaches, just as we enjoy the days before Christmas. We know the old traditions of Thanksgiving and we still picture the Indians and Pilgrims sitting down at rough tables to partake of wild turkey, cranberries, and pumpkin, baked and filled with milk and spices. (Forerunner of our modern pies.)

Among the many joys of the season is the thought of reuniting with family and friends often only seen on such festive occasions. It is a joyous time.

In my own life I’m particularly grateful that I had such icons as Grandma Moses and Norman Rockwell. They had such a perfect slant from their personal viewpoints on what the holidays were all about. I really can’t see a table prepared for the great meal without picturing a painting by one of these masters.

If I mention these artists often it is because I think of them even more often. They add color to ones life in the same way that they applied it to canvas or Masonite. Through them ones vision of the holidays stretches far back.

I discovered an old Rockwell print this week of a soldier on leave and helping his mother prepare the Thanksgiving meal. A particularly meaningful one in our times as well.

I am especially thankful this year for all the people I know and have known and for the good fruits of family and friendship. It is not only what keeps us going but it makes all our effort worthwhile.

So I drink my toast of Moneagle spring water to all this and more as the year winds down. I have good feelings about the upcoming year. I think better times are coming. I feel it in my bones.

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311, 2021

The Old Orchard

November 3rd, 2021|0 Comments

Apple orchards always had a kind of special life of their own, in my mind.

An apple orchard, in the old days, had the far ranging nature of a
Victorian mansion. We lived on larger plots of land in those times,
so trees could be planted in good number.

Where I lived as a boy the old Orchard which had served for centuries, was still there on the property, though it had fallen into a kind of poetic ruin of its earlier self. Smaller and curiously shaped trees were growing where a century earlier there had probably been much more order. The trees often had those eerie shapes one remembers from productions like “The legend of Sleepy Hollow.” I had some good times climbing the trees or inventing ways of getting
to the best apples, (often on the highest branches).

I still remember the sound of one plunking to the ground after I worked it loose from a high up limb. These I would often eat on the spot as they would often be gashed by the fall and in need of speedy
appreciation.

Sometimes I would bring a book and make a warm fall day of it in the Orchard as many might have enjoyed a day of fishing. I read some of my first readings of Ray Bradbury that way.

You  know, television had been around for a long time when all this
happened. Like the Character in Bradbury’s “The pedestrian…”
I wonder I wasn’t arrested for “regressive behavior.”

Maybe we need a sort of park or preserve where we can enjoy some of these old fashioned pleasures. Where we can squint our eyes a bit and bring the past back all sweet and clear.

And if we’ve never known that kind of past, where we can experience
things we may have wondered about but never really realized… were once a real part of everyday life… I would welcome such a place. I hope picnicking would be allowed!

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2810, 2021

Halloween

October 28th, 2021|0 Comments

In America we have always taken comfort in our holidays; both the official ones and the unofficial ones.

We’ve been a hard working country and appreciated the high points and exciting festivals that reward us and cheer us and please our imaginations as each year unwinds.

I’ve written in earlier issues of the joy it gave me, years ago, when I lived in a large, old house on a village street and we decorated and prepared for the trick or treaters with bowls of candy and costumed monsters in the attic windows. That, combined with remembrance of taking my children and later grandchildren trick or treating year by year, comprise very happy memories for me.

This year, however, tech is being very strict. It prepares us, day by day, with concepts of hiding behind doors and sliding candy down a chute. Or perhaps paying the tech lords for a new app so we can have a “Zoom party” with friends faces smiling in little boxes on our TV or computer screen, WOW!

A lot like Fahrenheit 451 don’t you think? I hope tech will sell me my script early so I will be ready to read it when the faces appear in all the little windows. Though this sounds sarcastic, I don’t mean to dampen the ardor of those trying to preserve some of the spirit, it’s the folks behind scenes I’m aiming at. The folks who encourage our pain for their gain.

We are prescribed to by technology so much we’ve pretty much forgotten that these ad people are not doctors. The tech Lords are not complaining about our confusion, though. They are in fact doing extremely well as self appointed planners. Reports of their ever increasing wealth attest to that.

Well…it gives one pause. Perhaps we should sit out a couple of holidays if only to spend a bit more time thinking. Thinking about what life means to us and where we are right now. And though the tech bots echo “Don’t try to think or do research, leave that to the experts” perhaps we should shut down a few noisy apps and dust off a few books. Look at the past, compare lessons in classic literature and history to a lot that’s happening now. What do you think?

Happy Halloween.

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2010, 2021

Correcting Correctness

October 20th, 2021|0 Comments

Geoffrey Jones
Days Gone By

Most of us remember the old saying, “The straw that broke the camel’s back.” A graphic description of that moment where no more weight can be heaped on without destroying the ride itself..

“Political Correctness” has been having a pretty painless ride in recent years and the riders have been cracking the whip not only on the camels but on the passers by as well.

But,…that storied moment may finally have come…

Laura Ingalls Wilder’s fame in the annals of children’s historical fiction is second to none. Her “Little House on the Prairie” stories have been read by generations of Americans. The television series based on the books was a success for years. None of that fazed the correctness hucksters though.

Through no less than the American Library Association they moved last month to remove her name from the children’s literature award first received by her in the 1950s. The reasons given for denigrating “Little House on The Prairie“ titles was that they “reflect dated cultural attitudes out of keeping with the organizations new standards of “Inclusiveness, integrity and respect..”

Her works contradict modern “acceptance, celebration and understanding of diverse communities.” Well let’s look realistically at what we do actually experience in this new “inclusive” culture in which we now live.

All of us, politically correct or not, shop at stores that take advantage of  “global commerce…” that is, stores that sell merchandise supplied by workers from other countries. News stories have abounded and then been down played with descriptions of the poverty and poor living conditions of those workers.

Articles have even featured accounts of the prevalence of suicide among these groups. Of slimsy factories collapsing killing hundreds. These slave like workers work so cheaply that it has actually been considered as a profitable concept for the companies to send meat products abroad and back again, for processing rather than employ Americans to do the cleaning and packaging. The USDA has even approved this plan.

Female workers have, when they dared, complained of multiple examples of unfair pay schedules and ongoing sexual harassment. And all this doesn’t even touch on the tortured existence of many of the animals that supply our meat and poultry through these stores.

While digging through news coverage of the possible mistresses Thomas Jefferson may have had, or too realistic descriptions of friction with Native American’s on the frontier. As in some of the Wilder books, Little or nothing is said about these racist, sexist examples of modern slavery that exist right now that virtually all of us, by supporting these businesses, take advantage of and encourage.

Apparently it is considered more to the point to look away from what we’re all a party to now and focus on whatever we can paint in dark colors from the past. Then we can sit back, smugly, and focus on all the good we’re doing by snipping out of the history books the lessons that might have made it easier to process the evils we engage in the present.

Santayana said “those who cannot remember the lessons of history are condemned to repeat it.” The new library and educational models are actively promoting the forgetting of that history by encouraging us to avoid reading it.

I would call this an all lose situation.

Well, this time Americans are fighting back. Americans are realizing that attempts to alter the depiction of good and bad in history are foolish and infantile. As well as being blind to modern psychology which teaches us that we all are capable of evil actions, now and always when given permission by authority figures.

This was so well illustrated by Dr. Milgram’s experiments in the delivering of electric shocks to mock victims. (As well as Dr Zimbardo and his prison experiment at Stanford.)

Dr Milgram discovered that given permission, men and women alike would give stronger and stronger electric shocks to persons they believed were in the next room, until the death of the subjects would have occurred. The people administering the shocks were simply told it was “necessary for the experiment.”

Personally, now that we’re awake, we need to see these trends for what they really are, which is largely a gross pandering for political and business reasons. People set at odds are easier to control as in “divide and conquer.” “Global business” seeks to divert attention from modern wrongs to historical examples. By coincidence most of the scapegoats like Thomas Jefferson who wrote most of our “Declaration of Independence” and Laura Wilder who wrote of old time frontier life, are in most respects, examples of what was good in the American fabric. By digging for peccadilloes in such lives and ignoring the positive donations they made to our history, these correct folks allow us to glean something of their own agenda. A strong and proud America is definitely not a priority for them.

To bring it all up to date instead of having to look into the distant past for evidence of racial slurs, sexism and enslaved victims, let’s look at now. We are all guilty of supporting these places, sometimes on a daily basis. I know I have to think twice before I go looking for a bargain when I think of the real cost of that bargain. Time for us all to do a lot more thinking. and when we are looking for fault to shine up our mirrors a bit and look at ourselves and at life right now. Our “social“ platforms are literal training grounds for hatred and bigotry. We are given ready made placards depicting “the enemy” (another political party or point of view) as silly and foolish. We argue and fight and call our friends names. Everyday. We should look back at history for the lessons it teaches about our journey. The changes we make in things need to be now, not then.

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1310, 2021

Give and Take

October 13th, 2021|0 Comments

Geoffrey Jones
Days Gone By

Give and take is an old expression that you hear
less of these days. The implication is quite simple and direct. It means that in an argument or disagreement a settling of the matter by both sides giving in a bit, or trying to understand the other, usually resolves it.
 I really suspect the self help book craze and the attendant social network slogans and sayings associated with that, combined with the related agenda of big business in conditioning folks to be more useful production robots by cutting back on the human factors of respect, love and caring, are all part of the picture.
Typical examples, which we see everyday and often quote, go something like this, “Let go of those who bring you down, only spend time with people who make you feel good about yourself.” “Life is too short to worry about stupid things, have fun and don’t let anyone bring you down.” “Don’t waste your time on negative energy,” etc. etc. The main idea is, if you hit a stumbling block, kick that whole portion of your life out of the way and go on from there. No need to understand why the block came about, no need to understand the other person, that takes time, care and effort, it stands in the way of successful business dealings.
A real winner, these folks tell us, has no time for the messy human factor, nothing must stand in the way of his fun and usefulness in business and to his masters.
It would be interesting to glimpse a behind the scenes look at the folks who craft these things. And to study the people who pay them to craft them. I’m sure they make good use of an understanding of the grosser psychology of human nature and selfishness.
In real life I have seen families split apart for years by the “Benign neglect” philosophy. Friendships can end at a moments notice over a simple difference of opinion. Not surprising the family unit is dwindling away.  Not surprising friendships and even love relationships have much less depth today.
Solutions are more simply said than done but they, again, would amount to turning the clock back a bit and remembering the care people used in earlier times in making things work. They even had concepts, such as for example, if a person causes us to think about something we take for granted from a new angle, it might actually enlarge our consciousness and be a help, rather than “bringing us down.”
I hope this article doesn’t “Bring YOU down..” It certainly wasn’t meant to.
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810, 2021

Nightmare

October 8th, 2021|0 Comments

Geoffrey Jones
Days Gone By

(This column was  first published in 2013)

The other morning I awoke really early and since it was too early to walk to the diner I perused the news on my computer for awhile.

Somehow I must have grown weary as I turned from article to article and wound up dozing off again into a half sleep.

In my half sleep, a nightmare began to form. It began with a replay of the famous scene in “The Wolfman” (Anthony Hopkins version) where Lawrence Talbot is strapped in a chair in a medical assembly room. A professor of medicine is addressing the crowd to the effect that his subject is merely suffering from the hallucination that he is a werewolf and that careful treatment will return him to normal.

As the doctor lectures glibly on with his back to the shackled Talbot, he cannot see what the audience sees which is the transformation of the man into a wolf-man. By the time he turns, it is too late. The symbolism of this scene somehow was very important to me in the dream.

Now my dream shifted and I watched Jet planes flying overhead leaving massive trails
behind them. “They are dropping more of the time-release poison” I heard someone say. The scene shifted again and I could see a room full of business men. One man was addressing the group and saying that the plan to change currency to plastic for the poor and middle classes would be “the best way to track and control them.”

He continued speaking but the scene shifted again. Kindly looking officers were going from house to house removing all our protective firearms “for the greater good” I heard one of them say.

A drift of time in the dream and then a strange alien group of officers  entered the country and began carrying all the same people off to what looked liked concentration camps. “For the greater good” I could also hear them saying.

I saw them loading in members of my family and some of my friends. I looked on in terror at all this, and then I shuddered awake. There was my computer as I had left it. I was certainly grateful it was just a dream.

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3009, 2021

The Urge to Debunk

September 30th, 2021|0 Comments

Geoffrey Jones
Days Gone By

Recently I noticed there have been, for obvious reasons, a number of articles appearing about the Diary of Anne Frank and her experiences during the second world war period.

With the renewed interest in that time I also noticed that the debunked debunk theory claiming that a novelist wrote the diary has been dragged out of mothballs to attempt to use baseless misinformation  to defame her classic work. The diary was carefully studied and proven, once and for all, to be in her handwriting years ago.

This reminded me of a column I wrote some years back called:  “The Urge to Debunk.”

There has been a movement afoot for a long time, (maybe longer than I have realized) to attempt debunking great works. Maybe there is some part of the human psyche that isn’t content with the joys of art or spirit and that prefers emptiness to vision. I am sorry for that part of us. It is missing a lot. I can think of some good examples of this. Many more could come with more effort but these should show what I’m talking about.

The greatest of books, the Bible, of course, comes to mind. Bookstores are crammed with books with every kind of message about secret societies passing down “The real truth.” Authors are outdoing themselves in complex efforts to show what “really took place” “and what the actual message of the Bible was and is, and yet the message of the Bible is a very simple and direct one. A divine message of Love and redemption that could not possibly be improved upon, so why try to alter it?

The writings of Shakespeare are considered the works of the greatest writer in the English language. A movement came forth to prove that not only did Shakespeare not write his own works but that in reality he may not have even existed. For years strange cyphers were studied and several candidates arose. Francis Bacon and Christopher Marlowe were two of them. And then… this died away. It was recognized that indeed, Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare.

A movie, “The Freedom Writers” got me thinking about Anne Frank. I had been deeply moved by her diary years ago as a young student. Looking her up on the net I discovered a movement had arisen to discredit her wonderful diary and paint it as nothing more than a hoax.

Complex assertions were made including the allegation that the whole diary had been written by a notable Jewish novelist and passed off as the work of a young girl. Why such an effort against the chillingly beautiful and brave account of a young girl who lived in hiding and, after capture by the Nazi’s, died in a concentration camp.

The original manuscripts of Anne finally became the property of the Dutch Government. At that point forensic experts were called in to settle the question once and for all. And the conclusion? The original Diary and the later additions were all written by the same girl who attended the Montessori school in Amsterdam, Anne Frank herself.

What do we have as humans against a good thing? What do we have against hope and faith? What do we have against our own courage? Let’s work on it this year. Let’s make space for the best in us. I promise to do my part.

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2809, 2021

Idiocracy

September 28th, 2021|0 Comments

by Geoffrey Jones

Every so often I get a royal surprise in film watching. Over the holiday I had a chance to watch a film that did just that. It’s title is “Idiocracy.” It starts out in the same sort of way as one of those “National Lampoon Animal House” kind of movies . I was prepared for a total gross out with no redeeming merits. I was wrong.

Ray Bradbury never used this sort of format for his stories, but I must say he would have liked the messages contained in this movie. The basic premise is sort of like time travel. A young army librarian, Joe Bauers and a young woman of questionable virtue “Rita” are chosen for their average intelligence level for an experiment in hibernation, they are put in sealed plastic compartments for a year. The plan goes awry and instead of a year they sleep 500 years!

In the intervening centuries the dumbing down process has worked to create a populous of completely ignorant people who are total victims of corporate greed. A big corporation has bought the FDA the FCC and USDA and makes its own rules at the expense of the people and of ecology. Inflation is so bad that people walk around with billion dollar bills to make simple purchases. The country is turning into a dust bowl because farmers are trying to water their crops with the corporation’s “Brawndo” drink as water is no longer allowed.

The chemical content is killing the plants. The president of the country “Camacho“ appears to be modeled a bit after the character of “Apollo Creed,” from the Rocky movies. A good natured, bombastic, showman and ex wrestler. His chief job seems to be putting on a show including entertainment of the ancient Roman coliseum sort to take up the minds of the victimized populace.

The hero from the past is given the opportunity to work for the president once it is discovered that his intelligence level makes him the smartest man alive. He is appointed Secretary of the Interior and given only a week to solve the problems of the whole crazy world but gets off to a good start by teaching that the substitution of water for drinking and watering crops is a necessity. Meantime the girl time traveler cleans up her act by becoming his aid and an artist, as well.

A great deal more happens in this remarkable yarn but hopefully this much will spur interest in what proves a very thought provoking story where it was least expected.

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