Apropos of nothing in particular

Apropos of nothing in particular June 23, 2022


Garfield by Balling
James Garfield (1831-1881), 20th president of the United States
(1881 painting by Ole Peter Hansen Balling; Wikimedia CC public domain)

Garfield served as president for only 200 days, half of which he spent attempting to recover from the assassination attempt that ultimately took his life. An attorney, he also served prior to his political career as a preacher and minister at Mentor Christian Church in Ohio, which had been founded in 1828 by one Sidney Rigdon.




On the flight from Munich, I began reading Rolf Dobelli, Die Kunst des digitalen Lebens: Wie Sie auf News verzichten und die Informationsflut meistern (“The Art of Living Digitally: How to Abstain from ‘News’ and Master Information Overload.”


He is an author — Swiss, by the way, residing in Bern — that I’ve come to enjoy, so I was happy to find this 2020 volume in a bookstore in the Berlin Airport.  This is rather different from the two previous Dobelli books that I’ve read.  It issues quite a challenge, and, while I’m actually quite sympathetic, I can’t go completely along with him.


“This is my most personal book thus far,” he writes (in my translation).  “I was a news junkie, but for many years now I’ve lived entirely without ‘news.’  And I can see, feel, and, from personal experience, describe the effects of this freedom: a higher quality of life, clearer thinking, valuable insights, and markedly more time.  Disconnect yourself from ‘news’!  You will make better decisions, both in your private life and in your job.  And the best thing?  You won’t miss out on anything important.”


I’ll unpack what he’s saying a bit more in a subsequent post.  Meanwhile, though, since our flight from Germany was delayed by a minor mechanical issue, I need to run to catch the next flight.


So I’ll simply share a post that I wrote some time ago during a filming stay in the Kirtland/Mentor area of Ohio, where President James A. Garfield originated:


James A. Garfield is largely forgotten today because he was shot only one hundred days into his presidency and died roughly a hundred days later.  If the statements that survive him are any indication, though, he might have been a very good president:


The chief duty of government is to keep the peace and stand out of the sunshine of the people. 


If the power to do hard work is not a skill, it’s the best possible substitute for it. 


I am trying to do two things: dare to be a radical and not a fool, which is a matter of no small difficulty. 


A brave man is a man who dares to look the Devil in the face and tell him he is a Devil.


I have had many troubles in my life, but the worst of them never came.


Territory is but the body of a nation. The people who inhabit its hills and valleys are its soul, its spirit, its life. 


The sin of slavery is one of which it may be said that without the shedding of blood there is no remission. 


Ideas are the great warriors of the world, and a war that has no idea behind it, is simply a brutality. 


Man cannot live by bread alone; he must have peanut butter.


The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable. 


Posted from Atlanta, Georgia



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