.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Unpopular Ideas

Ramblings and Digressions from out of left field, and beyond....

Location: Piedmont of Virginia, United States

All human history, and just about everything else as well, consists of a never-ending struggle against ignorance.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

P,S. on Ms Smith

Hot on the heels of all that has happened with her just in the last three weeks, it is reported that, at about the same time as my post on her two days ago, Anna Nicole Smith got married again, on a luxury catamaran in the Bahamas. Her new husband is reputed to be one of her lawyers, a man named Stern. This could be a neat end-around run with regard to the other guy who has laid claim to things, an ex-beau named Birkhead.

Life as it is carried on by humans must be like a wineskin, supplied with no instructions or specifications as to how much should be poured into it and at what speed or how long the skin will last. Smith and the fates have obviously colluded in deciding that hers should be stuffed with as much as possible, and quickly.

This is actually a common thing, yet it never fails to boggle my slow as molasses mind, which is why I keep taking notice.

No mention was made of whether her baby girl attended the ceremony.

If she did, we can at least comfortably assume that, though she is Smith's child, she didn't join the happy couple and the wedding guests in the swim that they took around the boat to celebrate the occasion.

Fun with My New DVD Recorder

I would like to be but even if I had the finances, which I don't, my badly cluttered mind would prevent me from being what is called in the computer world a "first adopter." That is, one who tries out new products as soon as they're developed and come on the market. So I was years late when, six months ago, I finally entered the DVD world by buying a standalone recorder, for use with my satellite dish, a BUD (big ugly dish).

I bought a Lite-On Model LVW 5001 at Amazon for about $150, not including shipping. Lite-On might be considered an off-brand, compared to the biggies like Sony and Toshiba, but in the computer world it is a respected name for CD-Rom players, and I have several and have had good luck with them.

So far this Model 5001 has worked great, too, and I've been maybe even a little too busy recording movies, at the rate of about two a day.

My favorite feature on the recorder is its timer. I found that I could easily record movies even while I was asleep, and, using also the timing function of my 4DTV satellite receiver, the movies don't even need to be on the same channel or the same satellite, with the only restriction being that they can't be running simultaneously. I could theoretically set the timers for five movies in a row, though the most I've tried so far is three. I greatly enjoy waking up in the mornings to see what I've caught, just like trappers walking their trap lines in the Far North.

That doesn't always work out, however, not because of the machines but because of me. I have to stay on my toes when I set things up. The recorder is not forgiving if I forget the date when the recording should start, which I sometimes do, and whether the start and end times are in the A.M. or the P.M., which -- as you know though I apparently sometimes don't -- switches from one to the other twice a day. And then you have to allow for enough room on your disk, which I sometimes forget, and on top of that the various broadcasters are sometimes in disagreement with the program guides as to exactly when a movie starts and ends, so that it's hard to get beginnings and ends with no extraneous stuff, unless you are right there to hit the button.

But all in all, using my new recorder is a lot of fun, though it's making me more aware than usual of the things that movie people throw into their creations, often not for the best. But that's a whole another story.

Friday, September 29, 2006

From Marie Antoinette

A few days ago I saw a program on public television about Marie Antoinette. They were at pains to tell us that she never said, "Let them eat cake." But in a lot of other words, they gave the impression that she definitely fiddled while France smouldered, burst into flames, and then into a huge conflagration. She was having such a great time at her private palace in Versailles that she seemed to have no awareness that there was even a big country sprawling all around her called France and that she was its queen, and so for her seriousness didn't set in till all those Parisian women marched in, armed with knives, pots, pans, and invective and literally chased her out of her bedoom. Not till then did she become "steely" in her resolve to cancel the French revolution but it was too late.

The main statement about Marie Antoinette that has always stuck in my head was not the cake remark. Instead it was a statement made by a noted English royalist of the time. I've forgotten his name -- my ancient memory suggests that it was somebody named Burke -- but in voicing his indignation over the treatment meted out to her, he said something like, "I had thought a thousand swords would have leaped from their scabbards to avenge even an insult to the queen."

Now that's using the language for you!

Actually Queen Marie had to endure tons of insults, and they were delivered with a nastiness that outdid even what the Republicans dealt out to Bill Clinton in their fervid defense of the chastities of the Jones and Lewinski women, and the queen was convicted and guillotined on both sexual and treason charges. Her judges had no real evidence of either one, though the PBS program said that in later years, plenty of evidence did show up that actually she did commit treason, especially by trying to get armies from her native Austria to attack France. Maybe those judges were not as much in the dark as PBS tried to say.

The latter half of the TV program painted a poignant picture of the imprisonment of the royal family. The feeling of doom that must have invested them while they waited eerily foreshadowed what was to happen with the Russian royal family a century and a half later. But, in spite of the Reign of Terror, the French, predictably, were more elegant about it. At least they held trials of a sort, and in addition to the parents, they only killed Marie Antoinette's son, by letting him die in prison at age 10. Her girl was later released and sent to Austria, where she left no descendants. Nicholas and Alexandra and their brood were never tried and instead were shot and buried without ceremony of any kind in a dreary Siberian town.

Yesterday I read a passage in "The Iron Rooster," a book by Paul Theroux, in which he describes a trip he took to China in the mid-1980's. He says that Chairman Mao was asked what he thought of the French Revolution, and he answered, "It is still too early to tell."

But can't the same be said of any political venture and system, whether it be the French experience, the Russian experience, the Cuban experience, the Roman experience, the German experience, or any other? Things can be tried, forgotten, and then tried all over when they are fresh again, just like viewing old movies.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Anna Nicole Smith -- A Study in Astonishment

For a long time I paid no attention to anything that was presented about Anna Nicole Smith. I knew vaguely that she was a blond Playboy pinup or some such and that she married a rich guy, who, however, was quite a few decades her senior, and -- not entirely unexpectedly -- he promptly died and left her some "long bread" -- an old and familiar story and not really worth much notice.

But then I saw a documentary a few years ago, on her background and on the family members that she, like Janis Joplin before her, quickly left behind in the Texas dust. The contrast between her quite ordinary family members and Smith herself in her jazzed-up guise of the modern world was interesting. I looked at her images closer, and I saw how astonishing she was in the way that she had fashioned herself -- the picture of modern American female excess.

But with her the astonishment had just begun, and it isn't contained so much in her physical exaggerations or in what kind of aspirations she has or in what kind of person she is, as it is in the things that happen in her life.

First there is that thing about marrying the rich guy and then having him die. That propelled her into a long and bitter legal battle with her husband's family, especially his son, that has lasted for years and still may not be over.

Then, just in the last year, her chief opponent, that son, followed his father into the grave. It would appear that that might have given Ms Smith an easier shot at gathering the millions unto herself, but hardly had that happened when she was in the Bahamas, happily giving birth, at age 36, to a baby glamor girl, only to have her joy suddenly and severely dashed when her 20-year old son came to see her and the baby. Apparently he took some pharmaceuticals that he shouldn't have mixed, took a seat in the hospital, and died.

And on top of that, it was reported that the man who claims to be the father of the new baby was suing for custody of the baby, on the grounds that Anna Nicole Smith is too devastated by the loss of her son to be a good mother. Just three days later the man was said to be doing this!

It is impossible to imagine what Anna Nicole Smith must be going through now, and to think of the cards that have been dealt her.

Taken together, it all actually goes past astonishment.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Hearing and Other Faculties

When people invite God in by the front door, it's a sure sign that they've already given logic and reason a sound boot out of their house by the back door.

Recently I was reminded of this principle by seeing on either IFC or on one of the Sundance channels a documentary called "Sound and Fury." This film explores the advisability of getting cochlear implants, especially in children, to give them some degree of hearing. Some of the parents, speaking from their longtime security in the non-hearing world, were adamantly against allowing their non-hearing children to enter the hearing world by means of the implants. And one woman thought to shut off all resistance to her argument by saying that, after all, her child's impairment was an "act of God."

We have to assume, however, don't we, that that same God gives the great majority of people the means to hear.

But this same woman had already ruined her credility by firmly stating that she didn't care about music, because she had never heard any.

I have long admired people who can communicate through signing. Fate placed me in positions throughout the first half of my life where I continually saw, on streetcars and buses in Washington, D.C., students from the Gallaudet School for the Deaf, talking with what seemed to be purely the movements of their hands, lips, and eyes. And in this film I could see the eloquence that even tiny children can impart by the myriad and extremely fast movements of their hands and facial features.

Still, I have to wonder why deafness isn't considered a life-threatening condition. What happens if a non-hearing person happens to be standing under a safe dropped from several floors up, and they can't hear the warnings of horrified onlookers? At least one thoroughly scary incident like that and probably others that I have managed to block out have happened in my life. Is such a crisis unheard of in the lives of everyone else?

Meanwhile going without music is probably a greater affliction than is going without sex.

Now that's an unpopular idea for you!

Yet ...of all the losses of the faculties that threaten a person in my stage of life, deafness is the one that I fear the least, probably because my hearing is the sense that has been abused the least and consequently it's the one that I feel will be the last to weaken. My date of birth had a lot to do with that. I happened to arrive long before it was considered cool to put one's eardrums in danger of being burst by super-revved-up amplifiers.

All other things being equal, I think that, instead of the ears, losing the use of one's feet and thus the means to get around on one's own is second in seriousness only to losing the use of our eyes.

We take our feet for granted, and not till something takes us off them, even for just a short while, do we really give them the enormous appreciation that they deserve.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

The Uses of Apology

The new Pope, while speaking to an academic audience in Germany, quoted another pontiff of 600 years ago, who made statements that were highly critical of the Islam of his time and earlier. As a result, a tremendous outcry rose in many parts of the Muslim world, with demands for an apology, and after a while that was duly given.

In short everybody did what was expected of them, and so what has been accomplished?

Nothing much that I can see.

I think we can be certain that no minds have been changed. In such situations, whether they involve the statements of world leaders or ordinary citizens squabbling on a street corner, there should always be a question as to the function of apologies, despite the thundering demands that they be made. Surely everybody must know that no matter how profuse the apologies are, most of the time it is merely a case of the weaker party bowing to the stronger to get them off their backs and nothing else. There is never any way of knowing how sincere the apologies might be, and actually there are always grounds to suspect that they're not.

So why demand an apology? The offender wouldn't have given offense if that wasn't what he or she meant to do, and minds don't change that easily or at all. Maybe it's better to be grateful instead, for having been given valuable information on the adversary's true state of mind.

As in so many things there are exceptions to this, now and then. The most obvious ones are the several apologies that Bill Clinton, as President, made for past egregious follies of his countrymen. There can be no doubt that he was always genuine in his remorse about misdeeds in which he had played no part, and his apologies were all the more remarkable in that he must have known that they would furnish fresh fodder for the numerous attacks leveled against him by the Repubs.

In so doing, these congenital enemies missed an important point, which is that in these circumstances apologies did have an important use after all. They showed that in the U.S. there are still some, even in high places, who do have a high quality of conscience. So there's hope in that, at least.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Pitching Horseshoes

This past spring I started pitching horseshoes again.

G., a 53-year-old neighbor down the road, had pitched horseshoes earlier in his life and he had several sets of them, at least one of which he claimed had been handforged many years ago by one of his ancestors, back in the old country, in Slovakia, I believe, or Slovenia.

I had pitched horseshoes, too, when I was a child back in Landover, Maryland, and I still had two mismatched shoes dating from that time, plus two also mismatched pegs. I'm not sure about the pegs but I had held on to those shoes for more than 60 years, though I had never gotten a chance to use them till now.

But of course, in the intervening time, time had marched on, and those shoes, like G.'s, were out of date, technologically speaking. Among other things they weren't balanced, as all the official shoes are today.

So every Tuesday at 10 in the morning, G. and I, usually along with R. and some other neighbors, pitch for about an hour and a half.

I'm thought of as being the best, but that's only because, unlike all the others, I pitch almost every day at home. That has nothing to do with always wanting to win. In fact, when I win too much I get worried, for fear that the others will get tired of that and quit pitching. Instead, there are a lot of things about pitching horseshoes that appeal to me. It is simple, inexpensive, healthful, beautiful, and challenging.

If you don't think it's challenging, try flipping a U-shaped piece of iron that weighs nearly three pounds consistently close to a short peg 40 feet away.

The beautiful part requires a few more words at another time.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

A Word About Some Words

I have said that when I was a child, "black" was often an offensive term in the community of those descended from the forced laborers abducted from Africa. But in the 1960's "black militants" like Stokeley Carmichael, Huey Newton, and Julian Bond accomplished the astounding feat of elevating "black" into a term denoting pride ...and then excessive and even irrational pride. I have also said that nevertheless I don't use the word "black" in that connotation, and I'm not comfortable with saying "white" either. The main reason is that both terms strike me as being wildly inaccurate and a reflection of sloppy thinking and intellectual sloth.

"Black" implies that people called that are the complete opposite of those who are called "white," when nothing could be farther from the truth. In the U.S. at least, they are not opposite sides of a coin but instead are equally represented on both sides of that coin, for all the talk of polarization, and for every person in the minority group, there are several almost exactly like him or her among the majority group. The fact that they can and do interbreed without missing a beat says enough, and, having moved for equally large amounts of time through both groups, I think I can say without fear of refutation that their slob quotients are identical.

Furthermore, as a writer I believe in the precise use of language, while as a painter, if I squeezed out a tube labeled "black," it would be obvious that a big mistake had been made at the factory if something emerged that was my color, which is a shade of umber instead. I have never seen a person the color of the inside of a chimney, anymore than I've seen one the color of (or as "pure" as) the newly fallen snow.

I see no reason why the descendants of the slaves in the U.S. shouldn't call themselves something beautiful for a change, and besides, if one has ever noted the amazing variance of hues among them, which take on all the colors of the human spectrum due to so much blood intermixture, during and after slavery, then the term "Rainbow" is more than appropriate, and, though it's difficult and even awkward, the inertia of language being as ingrained as it is, that is what I try to say whenever I can instead of "black."

This is an idea that I've been sitting on since the 1960's.

After all, in recognition of that abundance of different hues, it wasn't too long ago that the term "colored" was used. That was considered to be less offensive than "black" -- until those same 1960's, when "colored" was inexplicably demoted to the same degree as the overly simple "black" was promoted. (Here I use "simple" in both meanings of that word!)

I know that this notion will outrage many, who wouldn't want to use a word that universally suggests extreme, ethereal beauty to denote people that they don't consider presentable at all. I have encountered that bitter reaction.

I also know that numerous groups have tried to gather "Rainbow" principally unto themselves. That includes the hippies, who have, or used to have. a celebration with the word "Rainbow" in its title somewhere out west every year. Then there is Jesse Jackson's Rainbow Coalition, which is supposed to include lots of different ethnicities but doesn't, judging from all the photos I've seen. And also included lately are "gay" people, though I haven't caught on yet to how the things that distinguish them relate to the appearance of the weather phenomenon that North Africans so poetically call "the Bride of the Rain."

I have not yet hit on anything quite as fitting for so-called "white" people, though they, too, are not that color at all but instead are various subtle shades of pink and buff, and until recent times they didn't even refer to themselves that way. Instead they referred to the nationality from which they sprang. For a long time, though keeping it to myself and to various writings, the best I could do was "Euchil," short for "European children." Though it was better, I avoided "Euro," on the grounds that the European Union messed me up badly by using that term for their money. But lately I have changed my mind. Why not? Or why not, for instance, "Euroders?" The "ders" would be short for "derived."

Note that I never tried to think of anything offensive.

The same can't be said for the terms that the descendants of the English, French, and others have coined for the descendants of the Sub-Sahara West African regions, in the sheer number and in the toxicity of the epithets, of which "niggers," "dinges," "samboes," "eightballs," "spearchuckers," "spades," "shines," and "mud people" are just a few.

I always thought that the word "nigger" especially needed to have its venom drawn, much more than "black" did. Instead Carmichael and Co. left that weapon in the hands of the enemy, and the best that they could come up with to match it was the notably limp and short-lived "honky." This is surprising, considering how inventive and effective Rainbows can be in their use of language, as anyone who's been in the military might tell you.

This disparity in lethality of epihets does strongly suggest, however, that the waters of disdain are not equally deep on both sides of the blood puddle.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Prisons and Terror

A couple of years ago I was amazed at how shocked and dismayed good Americans were because of the newly disclosed mistreatment of Iraqis incarcerated by the American troops at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Or were they really so shocked and dismayed? If they were, I thought they were either fools or they were even more oblivious than one might have thought to the myriad injustices that are committed in their name, and by them, at home as well as abroad. And these injustices long predate the founding of the nation.

I wasn't shocked or even particularly interested in the revelations of the misdeeds by the American jailers in Abu Ghraib. I caught only fleeting glimpses of numerous pictures of what went on there. I have a weak stomach, and it is getting weaker.

Anyone who had read the essential weblogs, in this case notably Riverbend's at "Baghdad Burning," would already have been long aware of the iniquities associated with the torture prison at Abu Ghraib, and they would have wondered what possessed the American forces to use it for exactly the same purposes as Saddam Hussein had previously. Did they not know that such a benighted place would preserve an aura that would satanically control all its subsequent occupants, maybe even after it should be levelled to the ground?

I have an extremely powerful distaste for the whole idea of prisons and the overuse of them. This distaste arose from two events.

The first was when I gradually became aware that I am that most unacceptable of beings, a male neeegger, and thus not a real human being, and that therefore I could never expect to receive equal justice under the law. And so ever since then I have been terrified by the possibility of being accused of something that I didn't do and being jailed. The nation's prisons have become a common way of subjugating Rainbows (my word for the idiotic term "black" as applied to people) and supplying a cheap labor force and a source of employment for guards and others, since slavery is no longer legal for the same purposes.

The other event was that at an early age -- it seems far too early -- I read a book about the Scottsboro Boys, and it hit excruciatingly hard, because I was their age and shared their sort of ancestry. This book was about 9 or 10 Rainbow boys -- not even youths -- who had received long jail terms in Alabama -- they had barely escaped execution -- after being accused of assaulting two euchil (my word for the equally idiotic term "white") women of doubtful reputation in a railroad freight car. The book described the horrible conditions in Alabama prisons. The absolute worst was some stuff about predation by tough guys turned homosexual called "wolves," and because of that I had long since vowed to go out of my way -- way, way out of my way -- to avoid seeing the inside of any prison -- ever!

Needless to say, however, that if you are a neegger, which you can never change, and if you believe that the law is not going to treat you fairly, an expectation that also never goes away because it becomes a survival technique, you are reduced to living forever after in a constant state of terror, and that has been, I'm sorry to say, my lot. And that's why, in comparison, the threat of terrorism from bombers, from overseas or from Idaho, means absolutely nothing to me.

Consequently the events of September 11, 2001, for instance, don't carry the significance for me that they do for most other people. On the contrary I saw -- and still see -- only two unnecessarily tall buildings that unexpectedly collapsed as if they had been made of ice cream, after they had been intentionally struck by two commandeered airliners, and it resulted in the highly lamentable deaths of what they are now saying is about 2,800 people. It also created an incredible mess in a downtown Manhattan neighborhood.

For me, however, after experiencing how the Grim Reaper had been so fond of visiting my family through the years, especially before I was born, the death of one person is fully as significant as the death of anyone else for whatever reason, and nationality and any other difference in persuasion don't matter. Far greater losses of life had occurred in other smaller countries in that same year, but for political reasons they were not similarly bemoaned.

That shows that revenge comes much more strongly to the human psyche than does justice. Prisons are really just long term instruments of reprisal, such as followed after 9/11, and meanwhile the concept of rehabilitation, which was supposed to be one of the main purposes of prisons, is today an idea mentioned usually with scorn, while torture seems to have gained silent acceptance.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Intractable Afghanistan -- 2

I have a close friend who in 2001 worked for a company in Arlington, Virginia. On the morning of September 11, he happened to be on his way to work when he saw either the airliner striking the Pentagon or the flames and smoke immediately afterward, and when I told him that I didn't think the subsequent Bush invasion of Afghanistan was a good idea, he strongly disagreed.

That disapproval is still my stand, and I had and continued to have several reasons, even though I know that, as usual, I am way out of step with my friend and with the great majority of Americans, even progressives. For them the virtue of the invasion is gospel.

My main reason was my fear of what I call the "Vietnam Effect" and later the "Cambodia Syndrome." I anticipated that the invasion would mainly bring disaster to the millions of Afghanis who had nothing to do with the airline hijackers.

Another was my awareness of how, with so much in their favor, the Russians, who just a few decades earlier had decisively turned back one of the mightiest war machines ever assembled, the Germans of WW2, had gotten so badly bogged down in much smaller Afghanistan that eventually they had had to turn tail and run back home, badly beaten by the Afghani shooters and terrain. And before them, on three separate incursions going back to the 19th Century, the British, then a powerful entity, had likewise been roundly ejected.

I didn't think the Bush regime had any hope of doing better, and one evidence of that is that now, five years later, NATO, on whom the Bushers have pushed off the task of finishing the Afghanistan job, are now saying that it will be at least five more years before that country is at last "pacified."

I don't see how they can be anything but wrong in that estimate also.

Meanwhile, with help coming only from Britain and Canada, the Bushies are angry with the rest of the NATO countries, whose enthusiasm for beating down the hostiles in Afghanistan has been lukewarm at best.

I guess the leaders of those reluctants are not as ignorant of the famous Santayana dictum as are those of the U.K. and the U.S.

Why are the leaders of those two countries along with Canada so interested in being embroiled in Afghanistan?

The British probably have in mind the settling of old scores, while the Canadians are most likely acting mainly out of the goodness of their hearts. As for the Bushies, having grabbed the tiger by the tail, they have no choice but to try to continue to be seen as wrestling the beast to the ground, though they have no real prospects of doing so.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Intractable Afghanistan

Though I am certifiably an oldster now, it's odd that in many ways I've never gotten far from the basic psychology of my elementary school playground. So I tend to see in the simplest of terms matters that others always describe in the most complex, abstract, and sophisticated of phraseologies. That must explain where I am in a position to have absolutely no effect on what's going on the world, as compared to where so many others are, which is in positions where they can keep the world in a steady state of unfairness, insanity, damnation and ruin, and they do so with all the gusto and righteousness in the world.

But if I was in charge of the American political system, the U.S. military forces would never have invaded Iraq in the first years of the present century, we would have stolen more of a march on dealing with global warming, and we would have much more government resources and the will to deal with New Orleans (as nonsensical as I think it was to put that ancestral city of mine there in a big mudhole in the first place), and everyone would have been better off for it. Those kinds of things help explain why I see no problem with my type of a 1930's child's outlook.

So in that vein today I want to give one of my takes on Afghanistan....

Except that I am already tired of verbalizing and typing, so I will get back to this later.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Things They Do in Movies

If you are a male character in a movie, never engage in a bitter argument with a woman who is holding a drink in her hand. It is almost a dead certainty that the encounter will end with her splashing you in the face with that drink. If she doesn't have a drink, you will be slapped instead.

But in all my 75 years of checking out several cultures, I have never seen a woman throw a drink in a man's face. Also I have never seen a woman slap a man.

I guess I haven't been in the right places, such as in the movies.

If you are a male character in a movie, and you are cooking up something with another male who is holding a small object of some relevance to the action, when the two you part be ready to have the object tossed at you, sometimes over considerable distances, instead of handed to you.

In all my decades of living in various cultures, I have never had any object thrown at me instead of handed to me, nor have I seen anybody else do that.

Does this mean that I've always lived in a culture of slow thinkers?

If you are a character of any gender in a movie, and you are on foot and trying to escape from someone in a car, you will be expected to stay right in the middle of the lane, road, or what-not where the pursuers can easily hit you, instead of darting off to one side between parked cars, trees, or whatever, where the offending car can't get at you.

I suspect, however, that it is extremely uncommon to see anybody chased by someone in a car to start with, in real life. I have never heard of that being done.

It isn't always good or even sensible to be in the moving pictures.

Friday, September 15, 2006

The U.S.'s Roof is Leaking

When someone of one of the non-dominant cultures points out and protests a harmful condition in the U.S., and when those in the dominant culture, for whatever reason, don't want to fix the problem but can't come up with a good reason for their refusal, those in this latter group like to fall back on a reply that in their minds instantly smashes all opposition. This response, in its briefest form, is "Love it or leave it."

For example, the descendants of the slaves from Africa in this country will most often hear this sentiment when, in the heat of controversy, they are advised by people of European ancestry to go back to Africa. This is very peculiar, since, to a man and a woman, none of these descendants have ever been to Africa in the first place, nor have their ancestors for many generations in the past. So how can they possibly go "back" to it?

The irony always is that the country would be much better served if the persons who advocate these departures would themselves leave instead. The nation's slob quotient would thereby be much improved. But, as that will not happen, the desperate hope is that eventually they will come to their senses and see the need for improvement. And that, too often, is just that: a desperate hope.

In this respect the country, especially with a government like the present one, is like a house with a leaking roof. The residents that suffer most from the leak ask those who have the power to fix it to do so, but instead they answer, "The roof isn't leaking in my part of the house, so too bad for you. If you don't like it, you know what you can do. You can leave."

So the roof never gets fixed, and the rain damage spreads till finally it affects all of the roof, and it falls in on the surprised occupants.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Green and Orange Cats

Just before waking this morning I dreamed about lime green and dayglo orange cats. My wife and I are cat people. We have four: two short-hair black and two long-hair gray. In the dream I debated whether green cats were an oddity, and the verdict was that they weren't. After I awoke I changed my mind.

I have two rolls of tape that I use for marking my plants and trees. They are the exact colors of those cats in the dream. It's strange that my subconscious went to them for its palette. As far as I know those tapes are outside even my vast range of anxieties.

In the process of pondering on these matters, I could think of very few green animals, outside of frogs, one or two snakes, and a few birds. I suppose that Evolution rarely found that coloration to be necessary, especially in mammals. You would think that it would be more common, given all the greenery that exists over many parts of the world.

I wonder if any of the dinosaurs were green. From what I've heard on the Discovery Channel, they really don't know yet what colors those various long-necked rascals sported. Maybe the paleo people will soon come up with some very authoritative-sounding but suspicious guesses on that, too.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

9/11 -- The End of Civilization? Nonsense

It is interesting and instructive to see how armies of people still go far out of their way to inflate the importance of the events in NYC on September 11, 2001. However the same kind of gravity that keeps our planet in the shape of a big, tight ball constantly works against them, reducing 9/11 to little more than an eventual splatter on the ground.

Just as surely as every bit of the material that once comprised the upper floors of those buildings came crashing down in just a few minutes, the attack on the WTC towers was in all its aspects a downward falling event, yet these people fight to keep it rising ever upward, by troweling onto it huge significance.

Today on the Common Dreams website you can read an article called “The End of Civilization,” by a man named James Carroll. This article is unbelievably overblown in its celebration of 9/11. Here is an excerpt. After speculating that the event brought dread to many hearts because of the fear of nuclear war, he goes on to say:

But I believe now that the immediate trauma Americans experienced that first morning was still more primitive than that. Beyond politics, beyond nationality even, what humans saw in that flash was a glimpse of nothing less than the end of the world.

If it was a glimpse, however, that means that the end of the world was actually in progress and perhaps even imminent, depending on how long it will take the world to end after the crash of some airliners into merely two of the millions of tall buildings in the world. But after five years that end is as far from evident as ever.

The fact is that 9/11 couldn’t possibly have given a glimpse of the end of a small country or even a city, much less the world. If casualties are a good measure, ten times the number of people that died in Manhattan on 9/11 were killed by a hurricane that swept over Honduras and ditto for an earthquake that hit Turkey, both in or around that same year. Yet Turkey and Honduras are still here, and, making allowances for what our news sources deign to tell us, not much is being made in either place regarding those catastrophes that devastated much more of the populace and the real estate of those countries than 9/11 did here.

The 9/11 boosters will keep on beating their drums furiously, to try to keep the same flattening from happening to their favorite event, but it’s a hopeless and pointless task against gravity and time.