Good Reading Break: Arthur Chu on Gun Violence

Hey, Fickle Readers! I know I’ve been away for a long time, and I have much to discuss. However, when I read this piece by Arthur Chu on, I just had to take a moment to re-broadcast it. Chu does a fabulous job of arguing that mass shootings in the U.S. are fueled by a toxic sense of entitlement and a need for attention similar to the way Internet trolls bully people online. Not only does he back up this position with lots and lots of excellent articles and research, he weaves in a historical perspective on what you might call extreme trolling–acts of public violence that are meant to garner publicity for the criminal.

I feel like this article is tremendously important. It looks at the issues surrounding gun violence in a different way and doesn’t beg out of the discussion with the usual cop-out “the guy snapped” explanation.

I’m sending you a whole bottle of virtual tequila, Mr. Chu! This essay is excellent, excellent stuff. Well done!

Oh, Those Fickle, Fickle Women: Part II

Now with fat jokes…

Nevertheless, in extremely confidential moments, he had sometimes been heard to avow, that at one stage of his career his very life had seemed to depend upon the smiles of a certain Emily. She had been fickle and false, however; still, he had survived her ill-treatment of him, and if injured in heart, had thrived and fattened in regard to other portions of his anatomy.

–“An Engaged Man,” Chambers’s Journal of Popular Literature, Science, and Arts,

Saturday August 6, 1870

Oh, Those Fickle, Fickle Women

The young Uchiha, once again, glowered at the object in his palms and threw the frame. This time, it fell under his bed. He chose to leave it there, for that is where it belonged. Out of sight. Sasuke had come to the conclusion that women simply use you, toy with you, and then toss you away. His father betrayed his mother because of a woman. Sasuke is in so much pain because of a woman that betrayed his trust.

Love is a fickle and foolish thing,

There is no such thing as love,

Only hate, only solitude, only pain…

–from Love Is a Fickle ThingChapter 1

Notes on Old Postcards: From Salina, Kansas

[Addressed to Mrs. K.A. Roome, 192 Claremont Ave, Montclair, New Jersey]


Aug. 18, 1929

Sunday 8:30 PM

Dearest Folks,

Here we are at this hotel. [Warren Hotel, on reverse.] Very comfortable and all O.K. Had a long ride of 260 miles today over prairie land & it was hot & dusty but it is cool now & I’m sure we’ll sleep well & be ready for another ride tomorrow. We surely are seeing a lot of interesting things & I’ll tell you all about them. Love from all, George & Lillian

[Picture to come when I figure out how to work my scanner.]

10-Minute Meditations: Magicicada

Even though I’m a great believer in science, not to mention a skeptic, I do love the concept of synchronicity–the idea that the universe is constantly littering our paths with important symbols and weird coincidences that would have meaning if only we’d stop to read them. Yesterday afternoon, as I left to pick up my son, I found yet another cicada sitting in the middle of a stone beside our front walkway. Dang, the whole world is cicadas! I thought to myself (or something to that effect), and scrambled to find my camera, because you don’t usually find a cicada standing stock still in the middle of a big, flat natural backdrop. Definitely the same kind of cicada as the other day, too: one round red eye on either side of her head, a patch of bright green on either flank, a little white line across the tip of her back end. Like a craft project for someone who craves symmetry and has a hot-glue gun.

The patient cicada hardly moved while I dug out my equipment and started preparations. Picture-taking has become a hit-or-miss exercise since the tremor in my hands has gotten worse and cameras have gotten smaller. But I was determined to take as many pics as possible, even if they came out blurry. Little Fickle would love seeing them. One of the most vivid memories I have of my young childhood is my mother pointing out a newly molted insect standing beside its old shell, which was see-through and cracked down the middle and looked like sepia-colored plastic.

All set, I clicked the power button, and my camera snapped open and shut. Change the battery, read the screen. Change the battery?! With a sigh, I put my camera away and kept walking. Now I had no evidence for my nifty little tale. Now no one would believe I’d had a visit from a cicada, just days after I saved one from a group of passive suburban ice-cream eaters.

It’s only dawned on me in the last hour or so that this is exactly how a myth is made. Evidence? Why would I want evidence? Now the cicada is a story, a quiet acknowledgement that the universe knows what I’ve been thinking about. Or maybe that one insect was the same mama cicada that I rescued, and like the opening of a children’s novel or a folk tale, she’d come to give me a token of her esteem. A lucky charm, a seed, a secret lullaby that would start me on a far-reaching quest or bring back faded memories, some piece of myself I hadn’t realized I lost.

The full scientific name of the North American periodical cicada is Magicicada. Maybe once upon a time in deep summer, I was destined to meet a special creature…

Don’t believe my story? Someday, I’m guessing, I won’t believe it myself.