Friday, September 05, 2008

"These are the times that try men's souls"

I've actually read The Crisis by Thomas Paine. The class was 'American Political Thought". The reading list was extensive; Notes on the State of Virginia, The Federalist Papers, The entire Lincoln Douglas Debates, Letter from a Birmingham Jail. Fortunately as tough as the professor was, he also had a weakness for good food and beer, and he would always take a small group of us out to dinner after class. I learned perhaps more from the debates we'd have at those dinners, than even the reading list.

We learned to sharpen our arguments, and organize our facts in those Socratic, beer inspired debates. We also learned a great deal about intellectual strength. Sticking to what you know to be right in the face of popular pressure.

Every year in September we go through trying times as grape growers. Without fail we will have a heat wave in September every year. All around us panic starts to break out. People worry about rising sugars, and the pressure builds to harvest early.

It is a trying time. You have to stick to what you know is right, and let the grapes hang through the heat. Even as you read about harvest starting, and picking beginning, you know the grapes really are not ready. You have to have the guts and intellectual strength to stick with what you know is right.

It's very hard. A mistake and the resulting wines can have too much alcohol or burnt flavors. What if the heat doesn't end is always a concern? It gets worse as more people start to pick, and they always justify their panic with all the reasons they think it's the right thing to do, and how wrong it is to not pick.

We've got to stick that out. Hold on, do what we know will be right; "Simple facts, plain arguments, and common sense...divest yourself of prejudice and prepossession, and enlarge your views beyond the present day." Or for a more modern view: "We've got to hold on to what we've got...We'll give it a shot. We're half way there"

Which I would bet is the only time you've ever seen Thomas Paine and Jon Bon Jovi quoted in the same blog.


Tim Corliss said...

Good luck Paul, stick to your guns! Let me know if you need some free labor during harvest. I'm taking a 2 month sabattical for Oct & Nov.

Paul Romero said...


I'll add you to our emergancy help list for sure!


Craig J. Bolton said...

My G_d, there are still actual teachers around. Imagine that. I'm sure that was a great experience [having had a couple of similar experiences in my life], but here's the critical question: what have you done since then to continue to expand your understanding and horizons.

Yes, we're all busy. No, it really doesn't take THAT long. Not only are books incredibly cheap these days [in terms of their price in sacrifice of other goods], but there are products that are readily available for your car disk player or Ipod that can at least, in part, prolong your previous very positive experience. Then, believe it or not, there are, here and there, now and then, dinner clubs where people continue the very positive experience and the discussions you were having before......

Paul Romero said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paul Romero said...

Dr. Wettergreen died many years ago, so he's not still around.

My reading time is pretty limited. I have 2 full time jobs afterall, but I do get some non technical stuff read from time to time. A friend just gave me an older book this morning 'Germs, Guns and Steel', that he was talking about over dinner last week.