I’ve just finished re-reading, for the first time in several years, one of the more frightening non-fiction books written in the 20th century.
It’s called “The Warning.”
The authors are Ira Rosen and Mike Gray.
Published in 1982, the book chronicles, in exhaustive detail, the infamous 1979 accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania.
The reality that a single ounce of any substance is worth $1,400 can exert a considerable influence on a person.
Especially when the substance in question is legal and can be peddled on the open market.
(Certain drugs have a comparable value, but dealing in them, unless you’re a licensed pharmacist, is a clandestine matter. Also, the people who get into that line of work frequently end up not with a lucrative investment but rather a long prison sentence or a bullet in the head from a short-barreled handgun.)
Gold, by contrast, has for centuries been a socially acceptable, and treasured, commodity pretty much everywhere on the globe.
Scrolling through the comments posted on OregonLive.com, with the goal of sampling reasonable, respectful opinions about a complex issue — cattle grazing on public land, for instance — is akin to letting a mob of 3-year-olds decide the dinner menu and expecting a nutritious meal.
You’re going to get lots of candy and ice cream.
But very little in the way of leafy green vegetables.
I’m no Luddite, but my lighting fixtures are the technological equivalent of a Model T.
Incandescence illuminates the whole of my home.
Crude filaments abound, squandering precious kilowatts with each flick of a switch.
(And with a three-year-old on the premises, there is a great deal of switch-flicking.)
My son arrived last week, equipped with fully functioning lungs and larynx, and scarcely had I cut the cord before his tiny scrunched face was available for viewing around the world.
Or to people on Facebook, anyway.
Which amounts to the same, come to that.
By JAYSON JACOBY
Almost the whole of a century has elapsed and at last our final, feeble human link to the Great War has been cut.
The war is history, officially and irretrievably so.
The Methuselah’s name is Frank Buckles.
He died Feb. 27 at the improbable age of 110.
Buckles, who lied to a recruiter about his age to enlist in the Army
in 1917 (he claimed he was 18 when he was in fact 16ﬁ), was the last
surviving American veteran of the catastrophe we now call World War I.
(That moniker, “Great War,” initially attached to the 1914-18
conflict, lost its luster, so to speak, when Hitler’s blitzkrieg
pounced on Poland in 1939 and unleashed a far greater hemorrhage of
both blood and treasure.)
A conventional reaction to a milestone such as Buckles’ death is to
wonder whether our collective memory of the distant event will now
begin to wither more rapidly.
I doubt this.
The reason is that World War I was relegated decades ago to a sort
of historical purgatory — not so ancient as, say, the Peloponnesian
War, but no more relevant to today’s problems than is the War of 1812.
Public employee unions are much in the news these days, and quite a lot of the people who have something to say about unions say it with palpable passion.
I respect people who express themselves with conviction. By contrast, an opinion delivered dispassionately can be as unsatisfying as a meal of bland, ungarnished food. Boiled potatoes, for instance.
I’d like to believe that Thomas Jefferson, when he dipped his quill into an ink pot 235 years ago, was thinking about the health of the people living in the country that his words would soon help to create.
The phrase he wrote, of course, was “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
That “health” is not among the inalienable rights Jefferson listed in the Declaration of Independence is, I suspect, an intentional omission.
If you would endeavor to understand Oregon, to know this place and
its people, then I believe your bookshelf must hold three volumes.
They are, in no particular order:
• “Oregon Geographic Names,” by Lewis A. McArthur and Lewis L. McArthur
• “The Oregon Desert,” by E.R. Jackman and R.A. Long
• “Trees to Know in Oregon,” originally by Charles R. Ross, Oregon
State University Extension forester; newest edition, released this
year, by OSU forestry professor Edward C. Jensen.
The juxtaposition of the two murder stories was pure coincidence.
Publishing a newspaper has on occasion much in common with putting together a puzzle.
But with a couple of crucial differences.
Puzzles rarely come with deadlines, for one.
(Although I suppose there must be contests — in a world where Scrabble spawns events with hefty cash prizes, pretty much any activity is apt to be the subject of a competition.