For class June 3rd

 The dying dollar

Discussion Questions.
1) You ask a friend to repay a debt. Instead of paying you in money, (s)he wants to pay you in kilograms. What should your first question be?
2) Rulers measure distance; scales measure weight; thermometers measure temperature; so, what does money measure?
3) The values of rulers, scales and thermometers never change. Why does the value of money?
4) A hammer costs USD $10 at one time, then the same hammer in the same store costs $15, ten years later. Which describes the difference in price better: the price of the hammer went up, or the value of the dollar went down?
5) “Money is only worth what it buys.” Do you agree or disagree?
6) Karl Marx said, “(Democracy) will only survive until its citizens discover they can vote themselves money from the treasury; then they will bankrupt it.” What do you think of this statement?
7) A saying goes, ‘The central bank can only print money. It can’t print jobs.’ What does this suggest about the role of government in society?
8) What is wealth? What is the best method of acquiring it?
9) “Money is debt.” Explain how this is so.


My Review of “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir,” by R.A. Dick (Hardcover edition)

`I existed in a world that never is – the prison of the mind.’ – Gene Tierney

My spirits were totally taken aloft by this unforgettable story. Not being the kind of person exposed to great literature very often, my first experience was through the film. To my delight, both novel and film, though different, succeed marvelously in their own right and leave a deep impression on the heart.

`Little Lucy Muir,’ as she was known, no longer able to tolerate confinement in a world inhabited by stuffy prigs and overbearing in-laws, decides to plot a new course and go live in a cottage by the seashore. After the death of Edwin Muir frees her from the bonds of holy matrimony, she takes the children along with her to become masters of their own destiny.

Lucy becomes enchanted with Gull Cottage and the surrounding terrain; so beautifully described by R.A. Dick, and decides to make it a permanent refuge. The cottage is haunted, however, by the ghost of the previous owner, Captain Gregg. Gregg takes a liking to Lucy because she has spunk and really loves the cottage.

Her relationship with the ghost of Captain Gregg turns out to be most symbiotic: Gregg serves as Lucy’s mental guide to a world of adventure on the high seas, while Lucy is the physical means by which Gregg is able to preserve the earthly abode he loves so much.

The distinction between reality and imagination is often blurred as Gregg intercedes on Lucy’s behalf in order to make her happy; although he is capable of misguiding her, but not for long. Unlike a message in a bottle, Lucy is determined not “to be carried by the winds and tides,” but assert her independence and captain her own life.

Lucy’s spirit does become carried away as it were, not by the elements, but by another kind of transformation that comes only once in a lifetime.

For class May 27

Sweden: not such a utopia

1. What is equality among humans?
2. Can humans ever be truly equal? Why or why not?
3. What is the difference between ‘envy’ and ‘jealousy’?
4. What are some essential differences between socialism and capitalism?
5. What is social justice?
6. What is economic justice?
7. Does economic justice mean we all receive the same salary and drive the same make of car, etc.?
8. A political commentator once said, ‘The word ‘social’ cancels out the noun it modifies.” So ‘social responsibility’ would mean that no one in particular is responsible. What is your view of this?
9. List some ways in which people can never be equal.
10. Have you ever hated anyone because of his/her success?
11. Have you ever felt inferior to others because they have something you do not?
12. What is your idea of a ‘utopia’ i.e., the perfect society?

For class May 20th

Murdered for her Organs

Excellent questions about organ transplantation.
1) What ethical issues are associated with organ transplantation?
2) What fears arise concerning the sale and trafficking of body parts?
3) Which bodily organs are damaged by alcohol, smoking, drugs?
4) Should people who have damaged their organs though substance abuse (See Question 2) be given priority for a transplant over poorer people just because they have money?
5) Are there people who should not donate organs?
6) Should body parts be made available to anyone with money?
7) Should commercial enterprises seek out people who they think are most likely to donate body parts and organs, usually because they need cash?
8) Is it ethical that doctors give priority to certain kinds of patients needing a transplant because of age, income, title, relationships or celebrity status?
9) Is it your wish to donate your organs after death? Why, or why not?
10) Would you ever consider selling one of your organs while you are still alive? If so, which one and under what circumstances?
11) Do you know anyone who has pledged his/her organs for donation after death?
12) Do you believe, as some do, that people should be buried whole?
13) To your knowledge, which organs are transplanted the most?
14) When is a person really dead: when the heart ceases to function; the brain; when someone can no longer recover from a coma?
15) Situation: You own real estate valued at one million USD, and suffer from liver failure. Would you sell your property to pay for a liver transplant or forgo surgery and give the inheritance to immediate family members?
16) Under what circumstances would you allow doctors to take organs from a loved one?
17) Situation: An ambulance brings in a homeless person, who has been struck dead by a car, to the hospital emergency room. The victim has no identification. Do doctors have the right to take organs from the deceased in the name of science?
18) Do dead people have rights?
19) If you needed a transplant desperately, would you accept an organ from a source that you suspected obtained it illegally?
20) In some countries organs are farmed, that is, obtained from prisoners who have died of natural causes or were executed. What do you think of this practice?
21) Does the state own the dead bodies of prisoners?
22) Discuss your ideas and possible fears about xenotransplantation (transferring the cells of one species to another, i.e., pigs to humans)



The hood of night pulled ‘cross my eyes,
Does cloud the day in dark disguise,
And screens events within my lids,
Of images the day forbids.

Bent back against affliction’s crush,
O’er plaintive twisting falls a hush.
As trodden worm, I turn to lumber,
And fall from grace into a slumber,

If mercy come and I awoken,
A quickened spirit, bright, unbroken,
T’was from my eyes removed the potion,
By tender fondling of devotion.

So ringed by those who went before,
I stop to gaze at them once more,
Embedded pearls in weave of night,
The pinpoint limned shafts of light.

But, now I leave this earthly cluster,
All human things have lost their luster.
Released from darkness I do free,
The breath of life that dwelled in me.
J.T. Rodolico


Invidia casts an evil eye,
A look her smile cannot belie,
When punctured in her jealous heart,
And poisoned by the serpent’s dart.

The coils of anguish ‘round her breast,
Devour and strangle without rest.
Suspicion-laden, thus engrossed,
She serves alone as guest and host.

J.T. Rodolico


Fame is not a tender master,
Brings it fortune and disaster;
Beauty molded, hallowed, nursed,
Mixes blessings for the cursed.

Kisses sweet should do no harm
Nor wound the cherished or alarm,
Pricks them love with Eros’ dart;
Wounds the bearer to the heart.

The fairest mantle that it knew,
A frenzied scorpion slashes through,
Her pointed needle bends to sting,
The self that wields it’s poisoning.

Though born of air, earth or foam,
On wing, foot, or sail at home,
In all the heavens it is known,
That earthly beauty is on loan.
J.T. Rodolico


The bright is sure to come again,
But we, dear Elpis, know not when.
Do now appear in flowers wound,
Thou sweetest hope, and last state found.
J.T. Rodolico

Ghost Writer

Cresting waves crash on the shore,
Spray ghostly fountains as they roar.
Plumes spewing from a surging tide,
Protest to cross the realm’s divide.

A phantom bark glides in from sea,
Its grotesque mast lines shape a tree,
She sails well-armed on course transition,
Her skipper pressed to change position.

The shipwrecked widow lies abeam,
Who plays the lover in his dream.
A lonely cypress near the edge,
To love no more, her only pledge.

Travelers tack beyond their world,
For love eternal, sails unfurled,
And heed no contour of the land,
To see a tender coast at hand.

Two castaways as one abide,
One lost to love, the other pride.
Of thawed out passion they imbibe,
One the poet, one the scribe.

The vanished writing from beyond,
Are ghosts of those who are not fond,
Of love’s conventions, laws or rules,
So written for the sake of fools.

What’s behind THIS hand that writes,
Drama, meme or poem that bites?
‘Snatched by grace’ with so much ease,
Seized and bound by small degrees.

Forlorn tales that need be told,
Or crimes confessed and deeds so bold,
Impart what mortals need to know:
That truth extends its hand from woe.

Joseph T. Rodolico, July 6, 2009