introduction to a blog about ratiocinations out of thin air

Es­ti­mated reading time is 5 min­utes.

RATIOCINATIONS OUT OF THIN AIR is the title that I wanted for this blog. But it would have been con­fusing as most people don’t know what “ra­ti­o­ci­na­tion” means and few would bother to look it up. So we’re stuck with my name with “dot com” tacked on and this is the in­tro­duc­tion to that blog.

I kept “ra­ti­o­ci­na­tions out of thin air” as a sub-title. Ei­ther way, readers are con­fronted with two rather un­common words (al­though alien has been used in ref­er­ence to one of them): Umphred and ra­ti­o­ci­na­tion. (The family name ap­pears to be of Scot­tish origin, which ex­plains why Laphoaig tasted like the water of life with my first sip!)

Merriam-Webster de­fines ra­ti­o­ci­na­tion as “1. the process of exact thinking : rea­soning; 2. a rea­soned train of thought.” It de­rives from the Latin ra­ti­o­ci­na­tionem (“a calm rea­soning”) and ra­ti­ocinare (“to cal­cu­late, or to de­lib­erate”). There is an ad­jec­tival form: ra­ti­o­ci­na­tive. 1

Ra­ti­o­ci­na­tion is not taught at Amer­ican schools at any level, it is not picked up os­mot­i­cally, and our peers don’t pass it among them­selves ca­su­ally. Ap­par­ently, some people are born ra­ti­o­ci­na­tors; others choose to learn to be­come ra­ti­o­ci­na­tors. 2

I in­tended the site to ad­dress is­sues that re­quired me to ra­ti­o­ci­nate my way through them, even if they were movie re­views or ar­gu­ments on the misuse of the Des­ig­nated Hitter in base­ball. Hope­fully, my words would en­tice my readers to turn on their ratiocinators.

That is, I babble and learn, you listen and learn; hope­fully, we both come out ahead.

And if you catch me saying some­thing er­ro­neous, let me know . . .


Introduction: photo of upsidedown kitten in a window jam.

The photo that greets you at the top of the home­page I call “Up­side­down Zen Kitty.” I found it on the In­ternet and pur­loined the image for some for­gotten use. But I fell in love with the kitty and the photo and adopted it as this site’s totem. Un­for­tu­nately, I did not take down the name and ad­dress of the site from which I lifted it.

What’s here

I write about what­ever catches my fancy. here are the cat­e­gories on this site and what they in­clude in a nutshell:

Art & Artists
I’m an art school dropout who could, at one time, draw rings around most other artists. Now I oc­ca­sion­ally write about art.

Base­ball Observations
Thoughts on the game by a former fan turned back into a fan by the orig­inal Bill James Base­ball Ab­stract books back in the 1980s who got turned back off by the PED issue and the slugfests in the ’90s.

Books & Authors
Book re­views, es­pe­cially sci­ence fiction—faves in­clude Poul An­derson, Phillip Dick, Harlan El­lison, Anne Mc­Caf­frey, and Norman Spinrad.

Funny and Pos­sibly So
Mostly true (and usu­ally hu­morous) sto­ries from my mostly true (and oc­ca­sion­ally hu­morous) life.

Gen­eral Observations
Things that don’t fit into the other categories.

Movies & TV Shows
My views on movies and tele­vi­sion shows, usu­ally long-running se­ries that I just binge-watched my way through.

My Po­etry
Free verse from the cosmic consciousness.

Neal’s Rants
Mostly po­lit­ical.

Strunk­en­whiten It
On the use and abuse of grammar and punctuation.


Introduction: cover of hardbound edition of James Clavell's novel SHOGUN.

James Clavell’s third novel, Shogun (Atheneum, 1975), oc­curred in early 17th cen­tury Japan. Chrono­log­i­cally, it was the first in his se­ries of six “Asian novels” that spanned five cen­turies and two re­lated fam­i­lies. Shogun was the best selling of the six books with world­wide sales ap­proaching 20,000,000!

My books (so far)

There are eight ar­ti­cles on this site ex­plaining the var­ious books I pub­lished for record col­lec­tors. These posts pro­vide ad­di­tional back­ground in­for­ma­tion on me and my ca­reer. They are best read in the fol­lowing order, which is roughly chronological:

1. O’Sullivan Woodside’s Rock & Roll Record Al­bums Price Guide
2. O’Sullivan Woodside’s Elvis Presley Record Price Guide
3. Goldmine’s Price Guide to Col­lectible Record Al­bums (1st edition)
4. Goldmine’s Price Guide to Col­lectible Record Al­bums (5th edition)
5. Goldmine’s Rock’n Roll 45RPM Record Price Guide
6. Goldmine’s Price Guide to Col­lectible Jazz Albums
7.  A Touch Of Gold – Elvis Record & Mem­o­ra­bilia Price Guide
8. Blues and R&B 45s of the ’50s Price Guide


Introduction: poster for the movie TIN CUP with Kevin Costner and Rene Russo.

One of my fav­er­avest movies is Ron Shel­ton’s 1996 ro­mantic comedy Tin Cup. While this poster cer­tainly makes the film look like a ‘chick-flick,’ it’s ac­tu­ally more of a ‘buddy-flick.’ And de­spite the ob­vious ro­mance be­tween Kevin Costner and Rene Russo, she’s as much a buddy as a lover. And Don Johnson steals the movie as a self-absorbed arsehole

Even more information

If you want a more “in­ti­mate” look-see at me, click on over to Little Back­ground In­for­ma­tion. It’s a list of my a few of my fa­vorite things, like my fa­vorite novel (James Clavell’s Shogun with his Tai-Pan a close second), my fa­vorite movie (King Kong, not Tin Cup), and my fa­vorite whiskey (10-year-old Laphroaig) that will give you a small sense of who I am.

For my po­lit­ical be­liefs, try On Being a Mys­tical Lib­eral, where I con­fess to re­siding in the as­tral plane of progressivism.

Fi­nally, I am six­tysome­thing years old (it changes reg­u­larly) and still railing against life’s in­jus­tices, tilting with the wind­mills the vast rightwingnut con­spiracy throws up every day, and dodging the slings and ar­rows of out­ra­geous for­tune or ab­sorbing them when I don’t move fast enough . . .



1   There are two pro­nun­ci­a­tions for ra­ti­o­ci­na­tion: one has a soft ‘t’ sound (ra-shē-ˈō-sə-ˌnāt), while the other has a hard ‘t’ sound (ra-tē-ˈō-sə-ˌnāt). I prefer the former. (To hear the pro­nun­ci­a­tions, click here.)

2   Merriam-Webster in­cludes this in­ter­esting his­tor­ical and lit­erary tidbit under its entry for ra­ti­o­ci­na­tion:

“Edgar Allan Poe is said to have called the 1841 story The Mur­ders in the Rue Morgue his first ‘tale of ra­ti­o­ci­na­tion.’ Many today agree with his as­sess­ment and con­sider that Poe classic to be the world’s first de­tec­tive story. Poe didn’t ac­tu­ally use ‘ra­ti­o­ci­na­tion’ in Rue Morgue, but the term does ap­pear three times in its 1842 se­quel, The Mys­tery of Marie Roget. The second tale is based on an ac­tual murder, and as the case un­folded after the pub­li­ca­tion of Poe’s work, it be­came clear that his fic­tional de­tec­tive had done an amazing job of rea­soning through the crime.


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