Patriotism

The controversy over currently-former-NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick has stimulated fresh ruminations on my part about the true nature of patriotism. In short, if your concept of “patriotism” is tied up in superficial symbols of your country, and not in the well-being of its people, then you’re doing patriotism wrong.

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Plot and Plan? Or Plunge in Where Angels Fear to Tread?

James Scott Bell is a published author with a diverse portfolio of fiction, from period short stories about boxing to zombie lawyer novels (don’t ask). Anyway, in the promotional material for his writer’s coaching service, Mr. Bell divides writers into two groups:

  1. Plotters map out their stories in advance, making sure they know how it’s going to end before they even start writing.
  2. Bell calls the other type “Pantsers,” but that’s an unfortunate choice of words. Puts me in mind of bullies yanking down a freshman’s shorts in gym class. Whatever you call them, they just start writing, with implicit faith that their stories will find their way to the end. They plunge ahead. So maybe “plungers?” That’s got an unsavory connotation, too. We’ll have to work on it.

Of course, most writers will find them in both camps to varying degrees at different times of their lives. For the first two published novels of my career, I have definitely been a hybrid of the two.

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William R. Eadington (1946-2013)

When I was a kid, Bill Eadington was the likeable low-key guy who married my godmother, Margaret Dean. The Deans and McElligotts grew up next to each other on Coronado Drive in Fullerton, California. When I was little, Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners were cooked in both kitchens and passed over the side fence. On the Fourth of July, our two families, plus our neighbors on the other side, the Bakers, and another family down the street, the Marcons, managed to spread the party across all four yards. It wasn’t exactly Norman Rockwell, but it was close enough.

Bill EadingtonIn our little town, Bill was descended from citrus industry royalty. Back when the land around Fullerton was just one big orange grove, the Eadingtons and the Bastanchurys were the kings of the Valencia orange. There are still streets named after both families.

To rest of the world, for most of my adult life, William R. Eadington, Professor of Economics at the University of Nevada, Reno, was the go-to guy on the subject of the gaming industry. I’ll let his own school say it:

Eadington is the current holder of the Philip J. Satre chair in Gaming Studies, a professor of economics, and director of the Institute for the Study of Gambling and Commercial Gaming at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR). He is an internationally recognized authority on the legalization and regulation of commercial gaming and has written extensively on issues relating to the economic and social impacts of the industry.

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