Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Tenons fit but pundits, much more than a skosh off...

Today I've finished forming tenons on the top boards for the tables, as you can see in the photo above. It was a rather complicated process requiring the table saw, router and band saw. But the final work will be worth the effort. The way this joint works is that the tenon goes through the mortise and will be secured with wedges. The stub tenon running almost the full width of the board fits into the groove routed in the end piece. This allows the wide cherry board to be secured but still free to expand and contract in response to changes in humidity.

One of the terms we discussed at last week's box making workshop, skosh, is one that I first heard at Marc Adam's School where I'll be teaching in a couple weeks. Skosh means a very small amount... like "take a shallow pass with that hand plane." What you would take off is just a skosh. (If you can keep from messing the whole thing up.) I was surprised to learn that the word has Japanese origins from the mid 20th Century. Sukoshi.

Another word with foreign origins is pundit which means (in TV land), a person who makes comments or judgments, esp. in an authoritative manner; critic or commentator. It originated from sanscrit, Pandit or learned man. Another term for pundit is "talking head," which comes from only being able to see them from the neck up. Unfortunately, it seems an apt terminology as many of them gained their positions through the frequency and volume of their expostulations, rather than through the demonstration of wisdom in real life. It is one more example of our failure in the education of the hands.... It has become acceptable and even desirable to accept positions of authority without actually having any.

A friend, Elliot Washor who became co-founder of the Met School in Providence, RI had been to a school conference concerning his son. The administrator and staff were aligned like talking heads, telling him all the things wrong with his son and his performance is school. Elliot asked, "Do any of you know he is a protégé jazz guitarist who practices three hours a night?" The idiocy, it seems wasn't on the part of the son, but in the school where staff took no interest in knowing the whole child, his son. Let's put the hands and real experience, and real passion back in schools and save ourselves from the epidemic of idiotic punditry that has shoved our nation a skosh from the brink.

The most offensive pundit of late does a great job of illustrating the process of marginalizing of the wisdom of hands in the growth of our nation. In his attempt to marginalize Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, Pat Buchanan emphasized that all of the signers of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were "white." But, conveniently overlooked by Buchanan, the builders of the nation's Capitol and the White house were black slaves. Their forced labor is a contribution that could only be overlooked by a talking head, senseless from the neck down. His remarks could only have been made by one having far too little sense of the dignity, wisdom and significance of human labor. We should fire all the pundits and demand that they compete for real jobs in the depressed economy they have worked so hard to create.


  1. Anonymous10:24 AM

    More feel-good liberalism. Have Eliot Washor’s son practice his guitar 2 ½ hours and spend a half hour working on his school work.

  2. Anonymous10:27 AM

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  3. Feel good liberalism beats feel crappy, rude, and mean spirited conservatism every day of the week.

  4. Anonymous2:40 PM

    You notice that the rude remarks made by folks as listed above never use their name. Blogging is getting to be like talk radio. Liberal or conservative. As a country we are becoming more divided by the day. You are on the correct road my friend because...The Hands are the Key.

    Listening to conservative radio yesterday (I believe you must listen to both sides of the story) a soldier called in and stated that in Iraq most soldiers feel that liberals are a greater danger to America then Al-Quida. I am a Vietnam vet and we felt the politcians were a greater threat to freedom then Communism.

    I guess it's all about how you talk to yourself
    Scrap Wood

  5. My worry is that people think belief is a matter of decision rather than experience, so that their beliefs are equal in validity to everyone's.

    And the winning belief system is the one that is spouted with the greatest conviction as evidenced by volume and willingness to be rude.

    It is what happens when you make kids sit with their hands still. Their scientific discernment is shattered.