When Whiskey Advocate came in yesterday’s mail, I was puzzled about why I received it but pleased to have found it in my mailbox. It wasn’t long before it occurred to me that I traded DeltaMiles for the subscription (there’s virtually no chance I will ever accumulate sufficient DeltaMiles to trade them for an airline ticket, so I figured I should use them in any way I can before they expire). Anyway, I thumbed through Whisky Advocate and learned that seeing photographs of full bottles of various whiskies triggers a desire to own those bottles. Actually, it’s not the bottles I want; it’s the contents. But I’m relatively confident the contents would not be nearly as appealing to look at if they were stored in Mason jars or reclaimed peanut butter jars. Packaging matters. Packaging is an aspect of marketing. Marketing is a means of connecting a product (or service) with an intended audience. And, as I just suggested, the audience tends to respond to the subtleties of marketing, such as packaging. So, we’re all contributors to the fact that we’re awash in marketing messages from the moment we wake up until we wake up the next morning; marketing even invades our dreams. That having been said, I’m perfectly happy to contribute to marketing whisky. Or whiskey. Or both. It’s a little early to be thinking of drinking anything but coffee, but I’ll gladly wait until a more appropriate time, when I’ll return to Whisky Advocate and thumb through some more. And even read some articles. But, first, I’ll take another look at an ad in the magazine, promoting gin aged in whisky barrels; I may have to get a bottle of that stuff from the distillery; I think it’s in Kentucky. The gin, I remember from the ad, is imported from England, not made in Kentucky. Kentucky gin just doesn’t sound right.


Last night, I finished watching a Netflix movie, The Platform, I had started watching the night before. It is bizarre, a Kafka-esque science fiction piece which takes place in a vertical prison. Each level has a square hole in the middle through which a platform filled with food (or remnants of food) descends and stops briefly at each level. At the highest levels, the platform is filled with food. As it descends, there is less and less food left, because the people above have gorged themselves on what was presented to them. The protagonist, Goreng, is there voluntarily, spending a month in the prison in exchange for receiving some sort of accreditation credential. The others…we don’t know. The film is full of violence and ugliness of all sorts, but the violence is a necessary part of the story and is extremely well done. In my view, it is a critique of society and especially of capitalism, an allegory of the rampant and pervasive greed in which we willingly participate and wallow. Despite that cheery description, the film is absolutely worth watching. The ending, as disturbing and difficult to understand as it is, is especially impactful.

Before I leave the subject of Platform: I wrote a short fiction vignette I entitled Platform in January 2016. Here is a link to it.


I registered a few days ago to participate in the first-ever “virtual” general assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association. It will be virtual in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. General sessions will be viewable by all registrants. Workshops require registrants to sign up in advance; I gather participants can interact with the speakers and with one another during workshops, via Zoom. It seems, technically, well-organized and smooth. But I am disappointed in many of the topics. I wrote an email message to others from my church who are participating that:

I was surprised by how few of the program titles and descriptions captured my interest. I had high expectations; perhaps they were too high. Many of the workshop descriptions, especially, reminded me of the days of viewing college catalogs and seeing course descriptions for courses desperate to survive but destined to disappear. That is, topics that do not warrant much attention dressed up in an attempt to look like riveting stuff

I got a response from one other registrant shortly thereafter, expressing agreement with my assessment. I hope my initial reaction turns out to be unfair and unwarranted. I would like to appreciate the sessions I attend and in which I participate; I would like to be interested. We’ll see. I may be getting too deeply involved in this stuff.

I was asked to be the emcee for upcoming Insight services (every other week, instead of the minister delivering a sermon, someone else speaks on a topic of interest). The man who has been doing it will become president of the congregation soon and will, no doubt, have enough other things on his plate. I agreed. I say “yes.” I do that too often. I said “yes” to writing an article about the congregation’s Computers for Kids program and I said “yes” to taking on writing publicity releases in the future. And I said “yes” to serving on the Program Committee. And I said “yes” to participating in a “Green Team” group. And I said “yes” to being that group’s “leader.” I feel obliged to respond in the affirmative, even if I do not want to do what I am being asked. Why is that? I do not mind (and actually rather enjoy) getting involved, but I am afraid I am getting too involved. I’ve said it before. Why don’t I pay heed? I am concerned that, knowing me, I might reach a point of saying, “I am finished. No more” And that would leave people I like in a lurch. Chill, John. You’ll figure it out.


I use a word that some dictionaries seem to claim does not exist. Others do. Merriam-Webster‘s dictionary, for example, does not recognize thoughtworthy as a legitimate word. I wanted to check out the Oxford English Dictionary, but discovered that I would have to subscribe at the greatly reduced price of $90 per year to be given online access to the OED. I would dearly love to have a subscription to the OED, but I’m not about to pay $90 every bloody year for the privilege! So, instead, I’ll continue to rely on free and incompletely reliable knock-offs, including those that do not recognize thoughtworthy. recognizes the word. So does And not only recognizes and defines it (worth of though, of course), but claims its origin is from the mid-19th century. I insist that the word is not only legitimate but, on some occasions the only appropriate word for the circumstances. Dammit! Why can’t dictionaries keep up with my verbality?


Speaking of words, today’s John-word is a noun, logorrhea, meaning 1) pathologically incoherent, repetitious speech; 2) incessant or compulsive talkativeness; wearisome volubility. Until this very moment, I had never used the word. But, instantly, upon learning of it, I thought of a couple of people I have known. “You can tell Bart is suffering from a bad case of logorrhea by the fact that he never lets anyone get a word in edgewise.” I do not know that I will ever have occasion to use that word again. Time will tell.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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