The Great Writers produced by the Federal Writers’ Project

10:31 am August 17th, 2014

My fellow booksellers in these parts were recently advised to research and stock books created under the auspices of the FDR-era “Federal Writers’ Project,” a tax-and-spend-and-elect outfit created in 1935 as part of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration.

That’s good advice as far as it goes. Writers who later became well-known, from Nelson Algren to Richard Wright, from John Cheever to Studs Terkel to Ralph Ellison, were indeed at one time or another on the federal dole during the late 1930s, drawing pay from the aforementioned Writers’ Project to work on state-by-state guidebooks, or any other make-work schemes the New Deal bureaucrats could dream up. (Artists unable to produce works anyone would purchase voluntarily were even hired to do mosaics in subway stations, beginning a great tradition of forcing bad, urine-stained works of art on those who had been stripped of the right to refuse to fund them.)

Even though the contributions of these notables-to-be were generally anonymous, most of these guidebooks can be worth a few bucks; it’s wise to keep an eye out for them.

The Library of Congress started more than a decade ago digging piles of Writers’ Project material out of tax-funded warehouses and deciding what to do with it. This apparently included deciding which of it to make available to the public — an interesting role for a government agency to assign itself, given that all this stuff was funded by taxpayers.

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6:38 pm August 11th, 2014

Mom found the following 580-word piece in my dad’s papers, two-and-a-half handwritten sheets with a few cross-outs and corrections, with (but not part of) his autobiography. For geographic clarification, my folks lived the past 55 years on a wooded ridge in Marlborough, Connecticut — if you gaze north-northwest to the next ridge line, those woods are in the town of Glastonbury.

# # #

I would never have noticed him but for the contrails. And there he was, all alone, three-quarters of a mile up. (It was a he because he was glad to be alone. shes are never happy alone.)

Let’s see, it’s December 17, so the others have already gone en masse. But never mind, if I get there fine, if not, we’ll I’ve enjoyed the going. Not lonely, but sole-ly.

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Pushing the Ranchers Off the Land, part 2 of 6

1:01 pm August 6th, 2014

(NOTE: a condensed version of this report appears in the Autumn, 2014 issue of “Range” magazine, on newsstands now.)


Both Cliven Bundy and his friend Cliff Gardner, who ranches Nevada’s Ruby Valley hundreds of miles to the north near Elko and who also keeps getting hauled into federal court for refusing to comply with BLM “grazing plans” that have driven so many other Nevada ranchers into bankruptcy over the past 40 years, insist the Founding Fathers went to great pains to block the federal government from ever owning 86 percent of Nevada … 57 percent of Utah … 45 percent of the land mass of California … as Washington City now claims to do.

They insist they can find “no authority whatsoever” for the federal government to “hold and manage lands within an admitted State” aside from the power granted in Article I Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, which authorizes the federals to purchase specific parcels “by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards and other needful Buildings” -– a provision which would hardly seem to apply to the millions of acres of western grazing land.

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The Testament of James, second excerpt

7:15 pm August 5th, 2014

Added to the first excerpt, posted last month, the following takes us through the first 5,900 words of Vin’s new novel, “The Testament of James,” set for publication by Mountain Media in late 2014. If having to wait some months to read the rest of the story will bother you, please don’t start.

This material is copyright c Vin Suprynowicz, 2014, all rights reserved.


“James was the brother of Jesus?” Chantal asked.

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Just what do they mean by a ‘school shooting’?

9:30 am August 4th, 2014

I see where the Victim Disarmament gang have been up to their old tricks, caught red-handed ginning up bogus statistics to try and convince low-information voters that America’s government schools are now little more than shooting galleries.

(“But if only we could ban the guns!” they cry, ignoring the curious shortage of attacks on police stations.)

The domestic policy goal of financier and propagandist Michael Bloomberg, who finally stopped dodging term limits to step down as Mayor of New York this year (and who now works for U.N. chief Ban Ki-Moon proselytizing the established state religion of Global Warming), is to make sure every American has the same right to a self-defense weapon as the average civilian of Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union (which is to say, none.) And thanks to his deep pockets ($34 billion), many now consider Bloomberg’s “Everytown for Gun Safety” group to be the nation’s largest and most effective Victim Disarmament lobby, outpacing even the time-honored Brady Bunch.

Most importantly, Mr. Bloomberg has used some of that loot to position himself as a “news supplier.” As he feeds information to them through Bloomberg Television, Bloomberg Radio, Bloomberg View, and Bloomberg Businessweek (the magazine he bought from McGraw-Hill in 2009) — and since his statist gun-control agenda matches theirs, anyway — the nation’s big newspapers and television networks see little need to check out anything Mr. Bloomberg sends them.

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With a little help from my friends (‘Why I may appear to have been writing less, of late,’ Part One of Three)

11:16 am July 3rd, 2014

Friends and fans — if few in number then all the more cherished — have been asking why I seem to have been writing less this year.

I hope I don’t take too much on myself if I’m reminded of Paul McCartney reporting the press reaction when the Beatles stopped touring and went almost a year from August of 1966 without releasing any album other than some oldies compilation.

“The music papers had been saying, ‘What are The Beatles up to? Drying up, I suppose,’” Mr. McCartney smiled.

So they called the press conference, June 1, 1967, and asked “What do you think of this, then? We’re calling it ‘Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.’”

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‘Survival could not be expected’ (‘Why I may appear to have been writing less of late,’ Part Two of Three)

11:01 am July 3rd, 2014

1941. War came. The Navy, sometimes befuddled but even then the wisest of the services, made dad a radio man, on the little destroyer escort Raymond.

As most 20-year-olds would, dad took the rigors of tropical service in stride, writing in his surviving notebook about the traditional ceremony of the pollywogs’ first crossing of the equator under the supervision of King Neptune. But things got serious when Rear Admiral C.A.F. Sprague, commander of the northern escort carrier group of the Seventh Fleet off the island of Samar, looked up on the morning of Oct. 25, 1944, to see the Japanese central force –- the 63,000-ton battleship Yamato, largest in the world with her 18-inch guns, the battleships Nagato, Haruna, and Kongo with full cruiser escort, bearing down on his little task force, which lacked even a single capital ship.

Vice Admiral Tokusaburo Ozawa’s carrier force had drawn off Bull Halsey’s fast battleships to the north, as planned, and Vice Admiral Takeo Kurita’s central force found the San Bernardino Strait undefended. Thousand-pound shells started raining down on the light escort carriers from a range of 15 miles. Naval historians say the little force was probably within five minutes of destruction when Admiral Sprague gave the still astonishing order for the destroyers and even the little destroyer escorts to make smoke . . . and attack.

Aboard the destroyer Johnston, Captain Ernest E. Evans (in a statement sometimes attributed to Lt. Cdr. Robert Copeland of the DE Samuel B. Roberts, which went in a little later, though I’m sure each commander said something similar) told all hands over the bull horn that they were entering ”a fight against overwhelming odds from which survival could not be expected,” but that they would do what damage they could.

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What would an engineer need to know about ethics? (‘Why I may appear to have been writing less of late,’ Part Three of Three)

10:49 am July 3rd, 2014

Dad always thought those studying the sciences should be taught more of the history, the philosophy, and especially the ethical dilemmas which had been faced by their predecessors.

Those in charge of the university’s Electrical Engineering (and Computer Science!) Department scoffed. Their slates were full helping these kids schedule all the “How to fit Tab A into Slot B” coursework required for a degree. If the kids wanted to waste a semester taking history, that’s why there was a History Department. If they had time to dabble in Philosophy, that’s why there was a Philosophy Department. Ethics? Go visit the chaplain.

Even dad’s tendency to use his sabbaticals in Britain and Europe (ask the Brits if they think they’re part of Europe), visiting the sites of famous scientific or engineering triumphs and disasters (who the heck visits Germany to see the Fossa Carolina?), taking pictures and collecting maps and drawings and anecdotes and writing up what he found about the quirky historical figures who made it all happen, was considered suspicious enough that they eventually put a stop to it. (How was that going to help anyone build a better ray gun, after all?) None of that material was ever published. The notebooks and file folders still clog the quiet house.

But now that I’m sorting through a portion of his library, I find it an intriguing compendium of books on these very topics -– what science is, the philosophy of science, the history and ethics of science. I just came across a 1984 book by Werner Heisenberg’s widow, called “Inner Exile.” Heisenberg won the 1932 Nobel Prize for Quantum Mechanics, a prize he later admitted he should have shared with Max Born and Pascual Jordan. The book seeks to explain his decision to stay in Germany during the war when so many other notable physicists fled to the West, leading to charges Heisenberg had stayed to work on “Hitler’s atomic bomb.”

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The Testament of James, first excerpt

10:19 am July 3rd, 2014

The following are the first 3,600 words of Vin’s new novel, “The Testament of James,” set for publication by Mountain Media in late 2014. If having to wait some months to read the rest of the story will bother you, please don’t start.

This material is copyright c Vin Suprynowicz, 2014.

# # #

The Testament of James

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Pushing the ranchers off the land, part 1 of 6

11:37 am July 1st, 2014

(NOTE: a condensed version of this report appears in the Autumn, 2014 issue of “Range” magazine, on newsstands now.)

After years of bluff, bluster, and one-sided hearings in the federal courts (whose politically appointed judges never answer any of the ranchers’ questions about the limits of federal jurisdiction) the federal Bureau of Land Management this April sent hundreds of armed men, including SWAT teams and snipers dug in along the ridge lines, to barricade roads and attempt to seal off hundreds of thousands of acres south of Mesquite, Nevada — about 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas — in order to confront a single, 67-year-old rancher, Cliven Bundy.

Their goal, depending on who you ask, was to a) round up Bundy’s 600 head of cattle and remove them from land to which he has the undisputed grazing right and which his family has been grazing for more than a century, or else to b) lure him into an armed response to men bulldozing his water lines, torching his water tanks, and shooting his bulls, so that they could jail or kill him, to serve as an example to other ranchers elsewhere in the West who might be tempted to similarly resist the bankruptcy which looms for all as the BLM continues to annually reduce the number of cattle they’re allowed to graze.

Either way, they failed. One reason? The government can no longer control people’s access to the real news — a big change from the days when all they needed to do was make sure the evening newscasters on three or four major networks kept repeating the boilerplate sound bite that this was all about “a trespassing rancher who refused to pay a million dollars in grazing fees.”

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