“VIRTUCRAT”: “any man or woman who is certain that his or her political views are not merely correct but deeply, morally righteous in the bargain.”

“After all these years, I may have found my own best reader, and he turns out to be me.”

Some selected works:
Divorced in America: Marriage in an Age of Possibility (1974)
Familiar Territory: Observations on American Life (1979)
The Middle of My Tether: Familiar Essays (1983)
With My Trousers Rolled: Familiar Essays (1995)
Snobbery: The American Version (2002)
Friendship: An Exposé (2006)
In a Cardboard Belt!: Essays Personal, Literary, and Savage (2007)
Distant Intimacy: A Friendship in the Age of the Internet (with Frederic Raphael) (2013)
A Literary Education and Other Essays (2014)

“I read in the hope of discovering the truth, or at least some truths. I look for truth in what some might deem strange places: novels and poems, histories and memoirs, biographies and autobiographies, letters and diaries.”

“I’m not so sure that statistics have much to tell us about a cultural activity so private as reading books.”

“Serious readers…when young they come upon a book that blows them away by the aesthetic pleasure they derive from it, the wisdom they find in it, the point of view it provides them.”

“For myself, I have come to like books that do not have photographs of their authors, preferring my imaginings of their looks to the reality.”

Joseph Epstein

Joseph Epstein

“Books are an addiction.”

“Nearly all modern stories or memoirs of growing up are accounts of sadness, loss, secret terror.”

“Many people write or become psychoanalyzed in order to bury the ghosts of their childhood. I wish, as best I can, to revive the ghosts of mine….”

“Thinking too much about the future resembles thinking too much about breathing–the result is to make one feel very uncomfortable. Best to glory in what was finest in the past, to concentrate on the present, and to allow the future to fend for itself.”

“…without friendship, make no mistake about it, we are all lost.”

“. . . I seek clues that might explain life’s oddities, that might light up the dark corners of existence a little, that might correct foolish ideas that I have come to hold too dearly, that might, finally, make my own stay here on earth more interesting, if not necessarily more pleasant.”

[See http://memoriesofatime.com/2013/05/27/why-i-read/%5D


January 1986: Thirty Years Ago.

What is an accident? “An accident is an undesirable incidental and unplanned event that could have been prevented had circumstances leading up to the accident been recognized, and acted upon, prior to its occurrence. Most scientists who study unintentional injury avoid using the term “accident” and focus on factors that increase risk of severe injury and that reduce injury incidence and severity.” —Wikipedia

“Normal Accident”: “The kind of accident one can expect in the normal functioning of a technologically complex operation,” said Professor Charles Perrow of Yale University.

 Was it the failure of the O-ring, or was it the failure of NASA at the time?

 What is/was “an acceptable risk”? “Acceptable risk is a risk that is understood and tolerated usually because the cost or difficulty of implementing an effective countermeasure for the associated vulnerability exceeds the expectation of loss.” –Wikipedia

 * * *






of life–

Something wonderful (73 seconds in humanEarthTime) is about to happen.





touching the face of GodMETAphor:

To touch is to be destroyed:

“this mortal coil” is shuffled —


             At the time of the explosion, people applaud, as we do at the time of the brilliance of fireworks, at the time of the glory of pyrotechnics–and then the reality of human life set in–and tears of horrorshockloss. Yet, nevertheless, the brilliance, the beauty, were there.

We have applause at separation–

and//we//did//applaud//at their

s e p a r a t i o n     f r o m    t h i s    l i f e

while they touched the face of


 * * *

© James F. O’Neil 2/86





“Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.” –Plato

* * *

In my studies of John Milton and Paradise Lost, I learned best about his cosmology, his use of the heavenly bodies, and the music of the spheres. That was Plato stuff.

How far I have come from

Rock-a-bye baby, in the treetop
When the wind blows, the cradle will rock
When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall
And down will come baby, cradle and all.

cradle lullabye cartoon

Lullaby–of course

I have grown up with music and cannot stand to have quiet! (When the music is too loud for “others,” I am told to turn it down. I have told my wife that perhaps some of my intense desire for sound has to do with my former life in the seminary when I had to observe the Magnum silentium: The Great Quiet.)

Music is me. It’s part of my life. I have to have it!

* * *

MUSIC: A sound, or the study of such sounds, organized in time:  ‎

  1. Any pleasing or interesting sounds
  2. An art form, created by organizing of pitch, rhythm, and sounds made using musical instruments and sometimes singing
  3. A guide to playing or singing a particular tune; sheet music.

 * * *

The hills are alive with the sounds of music; and I walk among the lush growths, listening whenever and wherever I can. I love it (most of it). And it shows:

I have a radio (or music source) available to me when I need it: my Bose sound machine, and TEAC CD player, in the living room; a shower radio plus portable radio in my bath room; a bedside radio; Pandora in my man-cave on the TV, computer, and smart phone. In the car, I have 36 pre-sets on the Sirius XM: rock, New Age, “Chill,” and other favorites.

I have Shazam on my smart phone to help me capture sounds and songs I like, then download them to my Pandora stations. And the CD collection? More than enough.

* * *

“Music is often overlooked as a therapeutic intervention: singing, listening, and creating music of any kind will provide an immediate biological and psychological benefit for everyone. In fact, music can be a salvation and antidote to most psychological challenges: that’s why people sing in the shower and while driving the car, or simply listen to music that’s inspiring and distracting from emotional upset.” —Wikipedia

* * *

Some research has been completed which holds that children who are involved with music programs grow up to have lower rates of addictive behaviors, demonstrate better academic performance, and are greater prepared for college and the work force. I am one of those kids.

We always had music in elementary school, and for church services. Hymnbooks and songbooks were always–and still are–around me. Our home encouraged music, with our 45-rpm records, our classical music recordings on 33 1/3 Red Label RCA’s, “His Master’s Voice,” and with the purchase of our beautiful Grundig Majestic radio and record player:

Grundig Majestic in Texas

Still Working Grundig in Texas

[Our 1958 “Grundig Majestic Shortwave, AM, FM Phonograph Compact Stereo Console” was a tube-type radio and amplifier. FM was new to the US, but had been widely used in Europe since 1948. Only the phonograph was true stereo; stereo broadcasting was yet a long way off anywhere. The cabinet was highly polished with a Vertical Magic Eye tuning indicator. The phonograph had a 45-rpm adapter, stacking automatic record changer, 16, 33, 45, &78 rpm speeds. “Made in West Germany.”


[Max Grundig (1908-1989) was a simple radio dealer up to 1947, then founding the “Grundig-Radiowerke mbH in Fürth, Bavaria, Germany in July 1948. Max Grundig was also well known for portable radios and fabricated one of the first portable radios after WW2 in 1950 as Grundig Boy.–Ernst Erb, http://www.radiomuseum.org]    

* * *

My income from various jobs provided spending money to buy records.

I had two main sources for my record collection: Kroger’s, near 54th and Halstead in Chicago, always had bargains, and 33 1/3rd classical records. I received a “stamp” for every record I purchased; so many stamps gave me a free record. Tower Records downtown was Mecca: walls filled with copies of anything and everything, with catalogs for locating what was available–or for what could be ordered.

There were, also, local record stores, along Halstead, with booths for listening to potential purchases. That was a fun experience that could not be duplicated in Tower Mecca. I could spend hours carefully listening through earphones, taking care not to scratch any special LP (“long playing,” 33 1/3rd) record.

booth for listening with connie francis

Connie Francis in Listening Booth

* * *

College life brought studies and quiet time, with little recreation time for music interests. My record collection remained at home. But the college library: music to soothe men’s souls. As often as I could, I made my way to the library and the listening rooms, with their turntables and headphones. Here I glommed onto Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, Tchaikovsky’s piano concertos, and Porgy and Bess especially. Oh, of course, there were many other musical pieces for me to become familiar with.

After college, my LP record collection grew; then digital recordings–and finally, I became the first of many first patrons of Stereo World to purchase the ultimate sound machine, a Yamaha CD Player! (Well, there were other “ultimates” available.) With my electronic component system, I purchased the right wires and connections to provide the “best” digital sounds: Music for the Royal Fireworks by Handel; piano music by George Winston; Gabriel Faure’s Requiem; Allegri’s “Miserere.”

I was now in music heaven, mecca, paradise, on Mount Olympus, in Elysium or in the Elysian Fields [the Ancient Greek conception of the afterlife]. I was chosen by the music muse Euterpe, chosen to live a blessed and happy life with music. AAAHHHH!

* * *


* * *

Even though some research findings suggest psychological and medical benefits of music, like increased happiness, less stress, reduced depression symptoms, along with increased competence, hope, and optimism, I can vouch for certain music making me depressed if I listen long enough, like the requiems–or “sickened,” like rap. Or angry music in the car can make me angry, road-raged if prompted.

I must be careful while listening. “Blues” can be “blue.” Or some depressing country-divorce material; or “break-up songs”: “I Can’t Get Used to Losing You.” I could end up with marital difficulties if I “can’t be with the one you love, then love the one you’re with.”

So I embrace music; I don’t want to turn it down. I want to hear. BIG! LOUD!

Yet I so do know, as I am told by Mick Jagger and the Stones,

“You can’t always get what you want

But if you try sometimes you just might find

You get what you need.”


© James F. O’Neil 2016




“To tell or not to tell. That is the question.”

Secrecy is the practice of hiding information from certain individuals or groups who do not have the “need to know.”

What is kept hidden is recognized as the secret.

(But a person with a secret may want or need to tell it to another not affected by secrecy.)

“Don’t ask. Don’t tell.”?

The discussion of secrecy can often be controversial, depending on the content or nature of the secret, the group or person keeping the secret, and the reason behind the need for secrecy.

Persons often attempt to consciously conceal from others their own selves or acts or transgressions because of shame or guilt, or from fear (perhaps of violence), or from being rejected by another.

Secrets may be intimate to a single person, or sometimes part of an issue within a family, the “family secret.” (See Vital Lies, Simple Truths by Daniel Goleman.)

Disclosure of personal secrets has its pitfalls. Yet keeping a secret may be healthy and advantageous to one’s psychological self.

At the same time, secrecy can be a major source of human conflict, involving lying in order to not reveal. This can also lead to a number of psychological repercussions.

Sophocles: “Do nothing secretly; for Time sees and hears all things, and discloses all.”

Gautama Siddhartha, the Buddha, once said “Three things cannot long stay hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth.”

Scripture: “…and be sure your sin will find you out.” (Num. 32:23)

Yet if it’s a one-time transgression, perhaps it might be worth keeping that secret. Some therapists, however, might say honesty is important if there is to be healing in a relationship. Nevertheless, sometimes there really is more damage caused by a telling.

And the answer to the original question? One must weigh the consequences, both to self and to someone else. Will either be better off?



“Leadership cannot be exercised by the weak. It demands strength–the strength of this great nation when its people are united in a purpose, united in a common fundamental faith, united in their readiness to work for human freedom and peace. . .”–Dwight D. Eisenhower

Leadership Theories:

Ohio State Leadership Studies (1945):

The leader is concerned with organizational patterns, channels of communication, decision-making procedures, and organizational goals.

In addition, the leader has focus in establishing and maintaining positive relations with staff and workers.

In all of this, theorists find that good leaders are able to analyze a situation, depending on the personality of the leader.

Another leadership theory concerns itself with friendly work atmosphere, friendliness, trust, and respect both from workers and from employers, so that morale is kept at a balanced level.

Finally, there is the “Situational Theory of Leadership.” The leader’s behavior depends upon his or her maturity level acquired with skills and experiences. Each particular situation requires skill, experience, and a sense of responsibility for achieving goals.

Some leaders never “get better”; others do.

Once again, it all seems so simple, simply put, clear.

It is difficult to be a good leader, and also to be a good follower of a good leader. Sometimes the mix will never be achieved. Personalities clash, goals are not attainable, work environment is unstable,

Then, there is another theory for work:



The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 8,300 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Definition:  1) a woman’s one-piece undergarment

2) a soft toy in the form of a bear. Developed in the early years of the 20th century, and named after President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, the teddy bear became an iconic children’s toy, celebrated in story, song, and film. [Since the creation of the first teddy bears, which sought to imitate the form of real bear cubs, “teddies” have greatly varied in form, style, and material. They have become collector’s items, with older and rarer “teddies” appearing at public auctions. Teddy bears are among the most popular gifts for children and are often given to adults to signify love, congratulations, or sympathy.] –Wikipedia

3) an award given annually by Joe Klein, of TIME magazine, for “doers, diplomats, and leaders who ignored our worst instincts.”

“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs, who comes up short again and again … who spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” –Teddy Roosevelt


Note: Joe Klein’s Teddy Awards for 2015: Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Jerrold Nadler, Bob Corker, George H. W. Bush, James Baker, Jeb Bush, John Kasich, John Kerry, Mohammad Javad Zarif, and Fox News Presidential Debate (“proving that good politics can be substantive and entertaining”).  (See, TIME, December 21, 2015, p. 46)



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