Today’s Word: coeval (adjective) – Coeval (koh-EE-vuhl) means of the same age or time period. As used by Henry David Thoreau in Walden: “Such an eye was not born when the bird was, but is coeval with the sky it reflects.”

Did You Know?: Bifocals were invented by Ben Franklin to end his frustration with constantly having to switch between two pairs of glasses.

Worth Quoting: “There’s no way of writing well and also of writing easily.”– Anthony Trollope

What I’m Reading: “The Allure of Protective Stupidity”

I insist that any manuscript sent to me for review be clearly written. And I use a device called the FK (Flesch-Kincaid), Readability Tool, to mandate that. (The FK score is an algorithm that measures complexity of vocabulary and sentence structure.) I do it because I want to avoid reading text burdened with one of the most common writerly mistakes: weak and confused thinking.

As George Orwell said, “If you simplify your English… when you make a stupid remark its stupidity will be obvious, even to yourself.”

Here’s an interesting essay on how Orwell anticipated the language policing that is so popular among leftists today.

Look at This:

This is not universally true (you don’t need to remind me) but I’ve always had this theory that in a family with a mother and a father, the mother gives her children the moral core and the father the measure of moral standards

The compass of their children’s values will always point towards that moral core while the tendency of their actions will be measured by those standards

My mother’s moral core was about kindness and acceptance. My father’s moral standards were about striving and integrity. I’ve never felt I measured up entirely to either but I’m grateful they are there and grateful when I am reminded of them as I was with this commencement speech.

Today’s Word: supplicate (verb) – To supplicate (SUP-lih-kate) is to make a humble and earnest entreaty or petition. As used by Gabriele D’Annunzio in The Child of Pleasure: “Andrea might writhe and supplicate and despair as he would – in vain.”

Did You Know?: Gold is the only metal that is yellow or “golden.” Other metals may develop a yellowish color, but only after they have oxidized or reacted with certain chemicals.

Worth Quoting: “Anticipating your opponent’s moves and responding to them by moving instantly from offensive to defensive tactics and from hard to gentle moves is the sign of a master martial artist.” – M.M. Ford

What I’m Reading: The latest issue of Independent Healing

“The Truth Behind Cannabis Marketing Hype”

10 Conditions That CBD and Marijuana Can Effectively Treat…

and 5 Others They Can’t

Watch This: I’ve never done any serious reading about John D Rockefeller. I visited his home in New York a few years ago and that sparked an interest that I’ve maintained. As the professor her points out, he’s often remembered as a robber baron, but the truth is that he was as far from a robber baron as an industrialist could possibly be.

This little lecture hits the high points of his life as the person who could be said to have created America’s the middle class…

 

Today’s Word: egalitarian (adjective) – Egalitarian (ih-gal-ih-TAIR-ee-un) means asserting, resulting from, or characterized by belief in the equality of all people. As I used it today:They were shy and I did my best to relax them in that American sort of egalitarian way.”

Did You Know?: The word “salary” comes from “salt,” the oldest preservative and one of the earliest currencies.

Worth Quoting: “Charity is injurious unless it helps the recipient become independent of it” – John D. Rockefeller

What I’m Reading: The Story of English by Robert McCrum, William Cran, and Robert MacNeil is a readable encyclopedic history of the English language. It is well written and includes as much history of England as it does of English itself. I’m enjoying it. I will spend years reading it, I think.

Watch This: This Swedish performer adds an extra dimension to magic.

 

 

Today’s Word: perspicacious (adjective) – Someone who is perspicacious (pur-spih-KAY-shus) has acute mental vision or discernment. As used by Honoré de Balzac in Catherine de’ Medici: “Such a policy was, of course, indicative of a shrewd and perspicacious mind.”

Did You Know?: The Stegosaurus was a 30-foot-long dinosaur with a brain the size of a walnut.

Worth Quoting: “The only sure thing about luck is that it will change.” – Bret Harte

What I’m Reading: Bill Bonner on “The Billionaire Backlash”: Whatever side of the “tax the rich” argument you’re on, you’ll enjoy this…

Watch This: Feeling old? This will make you feel young again.

Today’s Word: fatuity (noun) – Fatuity (fuh-TOO-ih-tee) is complacent stupidity; smug foolishness. As used by Helen Keller in The World I Live In: “The fatuity of their union was evident to them, and they parted.”

Did You Know?: Nearly all of the gold on Earth came from meteorites that bombarded the planet over 200 million years after it formed.

Worth Quoting: “Praise, like gold and diamonds, owes its value only to its scarcity.” – Samuel Johnson

What I’m Reading: Maurice O’Sullivan was born in 1904 on Great Blasket – a remote island off the Atlantic coast of Ireland that was abandoned in the 1950s. In Twenty Years A-Growing (translated from the Irish), he tells the story of his youth, first in the coastal city of Dingle and then on the island… a way of life that is now in the past.

Very charming, clever, involving. Reminds me of Mark Twain at times.

Watch This: There is hope. Happiness is possible and contagious.

 

Today’s Word: sui generis (adjective) –Sui generis (soo-ee JEH-nuh-ris) is a Latin term (literally, “of its own kind”) that is used to describe something that is unique. As I used it today: “Las Vegas is a one-and-only and offers a sui generis experience to all who visit.”

Did You Know?: Adults laugh an average of 17 times a day; children 300 times.

Worth Quoting: “Show me a wealthy gambler and I’ll show you someone who has made his money from something other than gambling.” – Terrence Murphy

What I’m Reading: Brooklyn by Colm Toibin is a “woman’s” book in many ways. It is in good part about the protagonist’s love life. It is told from her perspective, and it focuses on food and dress and petty jealousies/competition among women. It also seems to have a sentimental arch: The heroine is loved by two men and chooses the loyal lapdog. (If I didn’t know that Toibin is a man, I would have guessed that the author was a woman.)

But I liked the book for three reasons: The sentences are well written, the characters are believable, and it does present this piece of American immigrant history, which I find interesting. I grew up in a neighborhood of Irish and Italian families, including mixed Irish/Italian families. I’ve been struck since by how well we got along, how the Irish/Italian marriages produced good, smart kids… and I wondered how that all happened.

Look at This: My Kind of House

We’ve been renting a house in Hollywood Hills this week while visiting two of our sons and their four children. As always, I judge the quality of a house’s decor by how much it makes me want to snoop around. This house is owned by a movie couple — she is a Harvard educated, award-winning director and he is a successful entertainment lawyer. Judging from the art and the bookshelves, these people have led intellectually rich lives. I’ve been looking at their books and records and I’m thinking that we’d like them as friends.

 

Today’s Word: luculent (adjective) – Luculent (LOO-kyoo-luhnt) means cogent, convincing, clear or lucid. As I used it today: “… a book that strikes us as luculent in our youth might seem dim or even dimwitted decades later.”

Did You Know? There are more than 130 million books in print. The three most read books in the world are The Holy Bible (King James version), Quotations From the Works of Mao Tse-tung, and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

Worth Quoting: “When the reader is ready, the best book will appear.” – M.M. Ford

What I’m Reading: From The Atlantic: “Rising Instagram stars are posting fake sponsored content”

The cleverest marketing is usually not created by the companies that win awards but by the oddballs cruising on the thin tails. Instagram marketing is no exception…

Watch This: I can’t get enough of these rockabilly dancers… the skill, the technique, and most of all the spirit. You can’t watch them without being reminded of how youth, at its energetic apex, once felt.

 

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Today’s Word: immure (verb) – To immure (ih-MYOOR) is to enclose within walls; to seclude or confine. As used by the 19thcentury Unitarian preacher William Ellery Channing: “He who possesses the divine powers of the soul is a great being, be his place what it may. You may clothe him with rags, may immure him in a dungeon, may chain him to slavish tasks. But he is still great….”

Did You Know?: Scientists say that Saturn’s icy rings are losing so much water that they could disappear… in 300 million years.

Worth Quoting: “What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” – Zig Ziglar

What I’m Reading: The short, simply written and heartfelt essays in Gratitude were written by Oliver Sacks in 2015 when he was dying of cancer – fearing extinction, yet grateful for the life he’d lived and the friends he’d loved. There are four essays: “Mercury,” “My Own Life,” “My Periodic Table,” and “Sabbath.” True and touching, I found them difficult to read at bedtime.

Watch This: When I was in my early teens I worked part-time for a sign painter. Most signs today are done digitally, but back then every town had at least one sign painter that would service all the retail stores, car dealers, and other businesses that needed signage.

I don’t remember the sign painter’s name, but I do remember being amazed at his technical expertise. This video will give you an example of what I mean…

Today’s Word: balmy (adjective) – Balmy (BAH-mee) means soft, soothing, mild. As used by Eugene Field in A Little Book of Profitable Tales: “The night wind was balmy, and there was a fragrance of cedar in its breath.”

Did You Know?: The kidneys are involved in almost every bodily function and 500 biochemical actions.

Worth Quoting: “Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.” – Oscar Wilde

What I’m Reading:

I was in one of my daily lows, prompted in part by my decision to scrap an essay I’d spent half a day on. My blood chemistry was bad too. I needed something to lift my spirits. And there, in one of my overstuffed bookshelves in the den, was an old paperback copy of Neither Here Nor There: Travels in Europe by Bill Bryson.

I’ve read two other books by Bryson, and they were both 100% pleasurable and enormously informative. This one, published in 1991, was not so informative. But the pleasure was fully there. It’s about Europe and England and America from the perspective of a very smart and very curious American who had been living in England for 15 years. I was barely three chapters into it, and I could feel my mood moving from a 5.9 up to about a 7.5, which is more than I can get with any sort of natural therapy – or even any sort of drug –that I’ve so far tried. I checked out some online reviews of the book. Some were not positive. They complained that Bryson made fun of the Germans for being Germanic and the English for being English and the French for being French. But if you like Europe and enjoy wit, Neither Here Nor There is for you.

Try This: The “Tequila Sunset”

I claim to have invented the Long Island Ice Tea back in the early 1970s. I can’t prove that, but I am claiming this drink too. I call it the Tequila Sunset. It’s made with a shot (or two) of añejo tequila (aged 1 year), club soda, fresh passion fruit juice, and a few dashes of smoked sea salt. It’s very good.