Henry Oliner


I recall years ago, reading a marketing newsletter call Towers about focus.  The author whose name I do not recall advised to spend 20 minutes a day reading on a narrowly focused and defined topic so that within 2 years you would possess enough expertise to market what you knew.

The author had researched a problem he had with gophers in his garden, after researching the topic he compiled his findings in a nine page paper on how to keep gophers away.  He placed a classified ad in several magazines such as Popular Mechanics selling his findings, and claimed to make $20,000 a year for several years from his effort.

He also marketed a newsletter describing how to do what he did.  I never bothered to verify any of his claims but the idea of focused reading stuck with me.

I was a late reader.  I never really got the bug until after college. I went to The University of Pennsylvania Wharton School, liked it so much I went to summer schools and finished a semester early.  I did my entire undergrad at Wharton, not just two years like Donald Trump.  If two years made him such a fucking genius, then there is no telling how off the hook smart I must be. My wife, the domestic goddess that she is, wonders if I am supposed to be so smart why I still cannot get my dirty clothes inside the hamper.

When I switched to black underwear, she asked, “Who the hell do you think you are, John Travolta?” Yes she keeps what remains of my ego in check.

But having finished my undergraduate courses, I remained in Philadelphia and ran/co-owned a record store. I had apparently acquired a habit of reading continuously and could not stop. I recall reading most of the works of Kurt Vonnegut while I remained in my large efficiency on Walnut Street next to the Dental School.

Most of my reading remains focused for a time period. It has become difficult to roam the Barnes and Nobles and see so many great titles that I refuse because they are outside of my current reading focus. I do retain titles. God bless the Amazon Wish List.  (One Click shopping is the greatest invention in retailing since the credit card.  My only stock tip is to short Amazon when you read my obituary.)

For the last year my focus has been on the founding and history of the American Progressive movement. Much of the right wing set describes Progressivism and the insertion of Satan into the American experience, the infiltration of socialism and communism into the society of self-reliance and freedom.  I take a more objective approach that this movement had causes and reasons that belied something other than malicious intent.  More than likely the leaders had developed other ideas and the movement had causes in the realities of the era, even if the solutions may have proven less satisfying than their perpetrators expected.

But I feel that I have developed some expertise on the subject of the American Progressive movement although the inquiry takes me into previous periods and into the subject of economic trends as well.  The subject is inexhaustible. Since the ideology of progressivism straddles a continuum with the constitution at the other end, it requires a review of the constitution and its history to see how it became a parrallel development, often in conflict, with Progressivism

Since progressivism has been a dominant political ideology for over 100 years it is now a major force in American Politics.

The reading continues, the focus remains in spite of the seductive books in the history section of B&N, and a summary work is in progress.   It will be much more than 9 pages and I will try other marketing venues than classified ads in Popular Mechanics, but there may still be a bigger demand for research about gophers.