Cary Neeper

Writer, Blogger, and Painter -- esteeming life wherever and whatever it might be.

Check out Critical Non-fiction for links to reviews in Goodreads.com

COMPLEXITY
Exploration of complexity, its indicators, embedded chaos, and value in human organizations.

Forty Years with Birds and Dogs
Care and Respect

A Wedding To Be Thankful For

February 26, 2014

Tags: Human Self-Image

The happy couple
Repeated from November 27, 2012
One more quote from "1001 Funniest Things Ever Said."
(Hamilton Books) From Eddie Cantor : "A wedding is a funeral where you smell your own flowers." Well, not quite.

In this season of holidays, I remember our New Years Eve wedding. I really enjoyed it, in spite of everything that happened, which, luckily, struck me funny at the time. It was a great garden party Ma and Pa and Auntie Flo threw, even though (Number 1) the latter beloved aunt got all upset because I wanted to be married, not in church, but in my parent's house, just like Ma did (because their father was ill at the time.)

Number 2: When the green velvet dresses arrived, my bridesmaid Ingrid split a seam (the dress's seam) getting into it. Third: A raisin (or something) got stuck in my front tooth as I was about to descend the stairs into the living room to meet my bridegroom. (Luckily, bridesmaid Sally discovered it and plucked it out before I hit the stairs.) Fourth: When it came time to read Corinthians about love, I could see that the minister's secretary had simply printed the reference numbers on his notes, so we lost that part of the ceremony. You'd think he'd know that by--oh well. Fifth: We had written our own vows, a hugely rebellious thing to do in the fifties, so I could hear our mothers holding their breath until that was over. Sixth: My cousin forgot to bring colored film, so all our wedding photos are candids in black and white. The 16 mm movie, I think, was in color, but it has turned to sharp plastic shards by now. And Seventh: The wedding cake seemed to be made of cardboard, so we couldn't find a way to slice a bite to feed each other. Some nice relative probably cleaned up the mess.

All that made for a very relaxed garden party. I had a ball seeing college friends out of context. Even the uncles didn't get into a fight. And Don, my groom, was in such a state of shock, he survived the ordeal. all he had wanted to do was to give me a ring, but then the dishes started arriving. He'd given me nose drops before our first date, so I knew this was the man for me. He's still in a state of shock, as we write haiku for our 55th college reunion, but I know he'll survive because he knows I think he'll be the handsomest old guy there. Our glorious 50th wedding anniversary on Tortola is long past.

A Review by Don Neeper-- The Spirit Level

February 20, 2014

Tags: Human Self-Image, Complex Systems

The greater the disparity in income, the more dysfunction a society has in multiple characteristics, including infant mortality, social mobility, literacy, AIDS, homicide rate, degenerative diseases, teenage births, trust, and status of women.
See the complete Blog 18 by Donald Neeper at
his web site.
The Spirit Level

A Review of Grasshopper Dreaming by Jeffrey A. Lockwood

February 9, 2014

Tags: Human Self-Image, Animal Consciousness, Religion

There have been no grasshoppers in our yard since First Turkey did them all in 35 years ago. Maybe that's why this title caught my attention. Then its thoughtful consideration of our lives and their meaning caught my soul. < Grasshopper Dreaming: Reflections on Killing and Loving> by Jeffrey A. Lockwood, Boston, Skinner House Books, 2002.

It’s a rare book, only 138 pages long, that becomes a treasure. I marked thirty-five of those pages because they contained quotable quotes.

Jeffrey Lockwood begins by taking us deep into the Wyoming prairie to watch grasshoppers doing nothing, just being, most of their time. Perhaps we should be called “human doings,” not “human beings,” he suggests. Then he leads us seamlessly into observations about complexity and “...what science cannot fathom, nature still manages to exploit.” Before we realize it, he has led us full circle to ask, “What is a grasshopper good for?’ and concludes with the timeless answer: “...we value our children...because of who they are,” not what they do.

As we learn the details of Lockwood’s work as an etymologist, defending farmland against hordes of grasshoppers, he illustrates his dilemma of what it means to kill. “Taking life, like giving life, can be a sacred act.” Sometimes an essential act, if we are to live.

We watch as Lockwood teaches his children about his job killing grasshoppers, while capturing and releasing insects he finds in his house. In either case, he feels that his obligation is to “...mitigate their potential pain.”

The author notes our need to control as we confront nature’s “absolute indifference” to our existence, encourages us to “...contribute to moving human society through this phase of self-destruction”, and ends with a treasure chest of quotable quotes about the complementary nature of science (how we came to be) and religion (why we came to be).

A Review of Al Gore's The Future

February 2, 2014

Tags: Human Self-Image, Sustainability/Steady State Economics

The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change by Al Gore: New York, Random House, 2013, a New York times bestseller. As former Vice President and member of both the House of Representatives and the Senate, as author of An Inconvenient Truth, a member of Apple Inc. board of directors, chairman of Generation Investment Management, chairman of the nonprofit Climate Reality Project, Al Gore is no stranger to business, government or environmental concerns.

This latest book provides a treasure for anyone concerned about our current dilemmas. In unvarnished, direct language, Gore explores environmental, economic and political issues. He presents the facts, sometimes a brief history, and digs deep into the reasons behind our failure to agree on solutions that he believes, passionately, must be implemented soon. The consequences of inaction are made clear, and they are dire.

This book was in development for eight years by Gore, his research team, business associates and distinguished reviewers, including Jared Diamond, E. O. Wilson and Herman Daly. Besides 373 pages of compelling text, the book includes an invaluable eight pages of Bibliography, 144 pages of usefully titled Notes, and a detailed Index.

The credibility of Gore’s arguments are enhanced by his understanding of complex systems and a balanced approach to each topic. He makes his own views crystal clear while exploring relevant evidence without overloading the reader with data. An example is his description of Earth’s wind and water currents that are involved in the experience of climate change (pages 305-311). Gore argues that though we prohibit “...human experimentation that puts lives at risk...”, we are engaging in a deadly global “unplanned experiment” as we continue to dump CO2 into the atmosphere.

Of particular interest to me is his analysis of why we cannot agree on such important issues. He covers many. A brief look at the Index can tell you if your topic of concern is covered. The range of possibilities for the future is huge, introduced in each section by extensive topic organizing diagrams. The concluding paragraphs “So What Do We Do Now?” (page 367) recap his most urgent tasks, if we face the fact that we humans are now “...a geologic and evolutionary force...” on Earth.

If the United State of America is to provide leadership to the global community, Gore insists that we must reform “...legislative rules that allow a small minority to halt legislation in the U. S. Senate” and “...limit the role of money in politics...”. The latter is a positive feedback loop, a recipe for disaster well known in physics and studies of complex systems.
2013 Nautilus Silver Award YA and 2012 Foreward Finalist Adult Science Fiction




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A Place Beyond Man
Authors Guild Edition 2011


The Oil Patch Project--Mystery team Cary and Don
See Oil & Gas tag above.