The Philosophical Apprentice

“Only one who devotes himself to a cause with his whole strength and soul can be a true master. For this reason mastery demands all of a person.” Albert Einstein

Archive for the month “December, 2013”

Keeping a Reading Log

Lately I have had good success in spending more time reading every night instead of wasting time on the internet. One of the tools I have used to good effect in this endeavor is to  keep a reading log.

I keep it as simple as possible. I have a favorite chair where I do the majority of my reading. At the side table I keep a notepad where I write down the date and the titles of the books I am reading along with start times and end times. I ‘ve also decided to start adding the pages I read each time. And that’s it.

I’m shooting for 20 hours a week and I hope that keeping better track of what and when I read will help. So far I’m pleased. I have been doing it for about a week so far with some success. I’ve noticed that when I’m goofing off on the computer it’s on the back of my mind now to log off the e-meth machine and settle down to read for my quota.

I may adding some features like plot summaries or my reactions to the book int the future. Better yet I might one day start keeping my daily notes of my reading material on this blog  but for the time being I want to stick with what I’m doing. Right now I’m so happy that I came up with a good idea of my own.

If you’d like more information on the value of keeping a reading log  read this article by Cynthia Crossen.

You will also enjoy a great little blog Kaizen Reading. The author Dolly Garland has a very good post on 9 Reasons to Keep A Reading Journal.

I hope you enjoy  the articles and I hope you will also start your own reading log.


Musical Discovery of the Week

Just when you think that no one is writing beautiful devotional choral works any more you run across the music of Frank La Rocca. Here’s a little background on him.

And here’s a beautiful example of his work. Enjoy!

Better Watch Out, Better Not Pout



Otherwise the Krampus might get you

The internet is an amazing place. I learn some strange new fact everyday. Take the Krampus for instance. As the  Atlantic Magazine tells us

While Saint Nicholas may bring gifts to good boys and girls, ancient folklore in Europe’s Alpine region also tells of Krampus, a frightening beast-like creature who emerges during the Yule season, looking for naughty children to punish in horrible ways — or possibly to drag back to his lair in a sack. In keeping with pre-Germanic Pagan traditions, men dressed as these demons have been frightening children on Krampusnacht for centuries, chasing them and hitting them with sticks, on an (often alcohol-fueled) run through the dark streets.

Let’s think about this. On Krampusnacht you get drunk, you get dressed up and you get to hunt down a bevy of snot-nosed brats. What’s not to love – if you’re an adult. If you’re a kid, however, and you got chased by one of these things I would think you’re gonna need a lot of therapy one day.

Trust the Germans to come up with something like this. There’s nothing half-way with the Germans. Look at the Dutch, They’ve got Black Pete helping to sort out who’s been naught or nice. But Black Pete, a cut little imp in black face, scares no one, whereas a Krampus is a vision of hell itself.

I sometimes wonder whether the paganism lurking inside the German soul is eradicable.

Codeword Emil

One of the great benefits of buying books at thrift stores is that the low prices allow you to buy and read books you would ordinarily forego.


I hit a few thrift stores on our way to Atlanta for the recent Thanksgiving holidays.  One of the items I came across was a copy of Erich Kastner’s Emil and The Detectives.  I did not know to make of the book when I first saw it and I had never heard of Kastner but it $.50 and the illustrations were by Maurice Sendak which was a good selling point so I said what the heck and bought it.


As things would have it I was casting about for something to read last night. I wasn’t looking for anything too heavy mind you but rather something to delight the mind. Additionally, I’ve been meaning to read more of the fiction on my kids’ homeschool reading list. So when I came across Emil and the Detectives sitting on my desk waiting to be entered into my book database I decided to give it a try.


Well. It turned out to be a delightful book. Set in Germany in the 1920s the novel relates the story of Emil a provincial country boy who having lost his father lives with his mother who is a cosmetologist by trade. Helping support their grandmother in Berlin, Emil’s mom sends him to Berlin to carry her savings for Emil’s grandmother. On the train ride in to Berlin Emil falls asleep and is robbed in the train by a man in a bowler hat. Now penniless Emil is determined to win back his money and begins following the man who robbed him. On the streets of Berlin a pack of neighborhood boys comes to Emil’s aid and under the tutelage of a boy named the ‘professor’ they develop a plan to recover Emil’s money. After which much hilarity ensues. The boys win the day and get the thief arrested. The thief turns out to be a wanted bank robber and his capture results in Emil not only recovering his money from the thief and the reward for his apprehension but in Emil getting a write up  in the paper and becoming a minor celebrity.

The copy I have turns out to be the third rendering in English of the classic novel. J.D. Stahl, the translator, did a good job of rendering the dialogue into the colloquial 21st century English. The language sparkles and is very playful, who could forget names like Tabletoes or Crumbagel. Readers in past decades have thought same as well and the book became an instant classic and was later adapted for both stage and cinema.

Overall, the book was a good indication that my goal of spending at least 2 hours a night in reading whatever gives me a pleasure (including more literature) is a good one since the book managed to reawake some of the ancient delight of literature that has lain dormant in me for some time now. I need make no apology for my emphasis on reading for pure pleasure. We could all use more literature like Emil and the Detectives which manages the difficult feat of making a good and earnest boy like Emil an endearing character. We could also use more literature depicting children working on their own in their innocence toward a common goal without the excessive adult oversight that is common now with today’s children. In today’s world Emil accomplices would be strung out on Ritalin, that or glued to their video games and iPads.

So in honor of honor of this classic the codeword is Emil.

Digital Barbarians

Bill Gates it appears is a follower of philosopher Peter Singer (infanticide you see is all the rage these days). He’s apparently not too keen on Art either. Mr Microsoft said as much at a recent conference for which Terry Teachout really took him to task.

What a philistine. And he has the gall and ambition to want to ‘reform’ our educational system, being, as he is, one of the driving forces behind the Common Core roll out.

First the barbarians were at the gates, now they want to teach our children.

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