Ben Langhinrichs

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November, 2005
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Civility in critiquing the ideas of others is no vice. Rudeness in defending your own ideas is no virtue.


Fri 11 Nov 2005, 06:39 PM

The sessions appear to be up... I guess it is time to make the donuts.

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Fri 11 Nov 2005, 05:58 PM
O'Henry was a great American short story writer.  Of that much I have always been certain, because I am sure I have read it in a hundred books.  I have even read a few of his stories, written in very early 1900's, but I probably did so under duress as part of a school assignment, and I must say, they didn't change my life.  They sank, unremarked, into the morass which was already sufficiently filled with chemistry, social studies and a myriad other subjects that they made barely a ripple in passing.

So, it was with little more interest than passing the time that I picked up a short book of O'Henry's short stories and started reading.  The one I am sure I have read before, "The Gift of the Magi", was in there right at the beginning, but so were many others.  I was captivated.  Seriously, if you haven't read O'Henry since school, you should give these stories a try.

But while I have read lots of short stories, a literary form of which I am fond and even dabble in myself a bit, I was still struck by a certain familiarity about the writing style.  The stories were poignant or clever, and often had a twist at the end, but they were also short and "pithy", I think my Grandmother would have said.  In fact, they felt a bit like reading one of the better blogs of today.  O'Henry, whose real name was William Sydney Porter, wrote for a magazine, one story a week for several years.  The stories, wonderfully clever and captivating, nonetheless have a "tossed off" feel, as if they were typed into a computer in the last half hour after dinner but before the kids had to get put to bed.  There are even ironic comments back to the author, where he writes a sentence and then says "An author should never start with such a thought" or that sort of comment.

OK, I might be crazy, but try for yourself.  Read a few O'Henry stories and let me know what you think.  There are a bunch on this O'Henry page, so you don't even need to go out and buy or borrow or steal a book.  And now, having stolen away for a few minutes before dinner and long before the kids are likely to go to bed, I must go myself.

Copyright © 2005 Genii Software Ltd.

Fri 11 Nov 2005, 11:11 AM
I wish to thank all the brave men and women who have served my country, the United States of America, in peace and in war.  Your service and sacrifice are greatly appreciated.  While we cannot all always agree on the best course of action in every situation or the best response to the woes of the world, we all hold dear the right to discuss and debate and criticize and live democratically.  You, the men and women of the armed services, are the guarantors of our ability to keep discussing, debating and criticizing in a free and open society, and we honor you for that.







Copyright © 2005 Genii Software Ltd.