the old, long abandoned blog; I don't come here much anymore
THE NEW BLOG
Monday, September 30, 2002
New Jersey's Poet Scumbag
I've read a lot of comments about the controversy over New Jersey's Poet Laureate, Amiri Baraka. I suppose this is important in New Jersey. There are more people in the northeast who care about high culture and intellectual stuff like poetry.
Most people in the "heartland" have no idea that their state even has a Poet Laureate. I was quite surprised a few years ago when I accidentally come across a reference to the Poet Laureate of Arkansas. I mean, come on - Arkansas? The land of poultry farms and trailer parks. What on Earth is Arkansas doing with a poet laureate? I guarantee that most people in Arkansas couldn't tell you. Frankly, I have no idea whether my state, Oklahoma, has a poet laureate or not. I suppose we have, but even though I'm more interested in that sort of thing than most people in my neck o' the woods, I have never heard of the Poet Laureate of Oklahoma.
If New Jersey can't get rid of Baraka maybe they could solve the problem by doing the same thing the rest of the states do with their poets laureate - just forget he exists.
Glad I'm not the only one
I disagree with Karen De Coster much of the time (maybe most of the time) but once in a while I see something on her site that makes me want to shout "Bravo!" Here's one, and here's another on the same subject. I wrote something about this a few weeks ago but I'm too lazy to look it up right now.
For some reason, when a man says it it's harder to take.
I very rarely watch 60 Minutes but I got lucky last night, getting the opportunity to watch it on a night when they presented a must see program. I hope the show got good ratings. Can anyone who watched that still deny that Iraq is a major sponsor of terrorism? Don't answer that; I already know. There is no limit to the mental contortions some people will perform to avoid seeing what they don't want to see.
There was also a segment on American citizens who are not allowed to leave Saudi Arabia. The U.S Government has done absolutely nothing to rescue these American women and children. In fact, the State Department has cooperated with the Saudis in preventing them from leaving. Where is the public outrage over this? We should have invaded Saudi Arabia first, but failing that we should be done with Iraq by now and getting ready to invade Saudi Arabia.
Thanks to William Slawski of Bragadocchio for the wonderful compliment.
Earlier he posted a link to a very good article about some people wanting to divide up the Internet by country. The alleged reason for this is fears of America controlling the Internet. I worry about the U.S Government's efforts to control the Internet too so I'm in agreement with the rest of the world there. But I suspect that the real reasons some countries want to slice off their own little section of the Internet is not fear of American control but a fear of not being able to control it themselves. Can't have those evil Americans corrupting the whole world with immoral ideas such as freedom and justice.
If other countries are really afraid of America controlling the Internet, the simple answer is to get their own people connected as quickly as possible and encourge them to set up their own websites. Let the ideas flow freely between individuals in every part of the world. No one can control the Internet except the users. Governments can try but "the Internet treats censorship as damage and routes around it."
The article includes a couple of quotes from a document which I feel is right up there with the American Declaration of Indepence - The Declaration of the Indepence of Cyberspace. The Declaration has been made; the Revolution is under way.
Sunday, September 29, 2002
No More "Islands of Peace"
I originally conceived my "Islands of Peace" category as a place of honor for blogs featuring beautiful writing about almost anything other than war and news. Sadly, the blog that was my model for this category no longer fits it. It seems strange to have a whole category for just one blog so both Fragments and Eeksy-Peeksy (both of them still fine blogs) have been moved to the main list. I was rather fond of that category and I will continue to be on the lookout for that kind of blog.
I'm considering adding a category for "Idiotarians." I should have no trouble filling that one.
I think this one's a keeper
The Sky Blog - I like the pair of Kennedy quotes.(Sept. 28, 6:10am; permalink doesn't work) The Kennedy's just aren't what they used to be.
Saturday, September 28, 2002
Give me reasons, not analogies
From the NitPicker: (Permalink not working. See "My Love to Molly")
Say I'm a guy in an apartment in a bad neighborhood. I have the feeling that the guy down the hall wants to do me harm. He might have a gun in there or a pit bull or a baseball bat. I think he might even be related to the guy who mugged me last week. Might even have put him up to it. What do I do?
This analogy is extremely simplistic. We have a much bigger problem than just "a guy down the hall with a gun or a baseball bat." But the worst thing about this argument is not that it’s too simplistic; it is that it’s a moral argument instead of a practical argument. It is the same as virtually every other so-called reason I've seen coming from the anti-defense camp. It is merely a cheap attempt to send anyone who is in favor of taking action against Saddam on a guilt trip. There is no way this tactic is going to sway anyone to your way of thinking, if in fact that is what you are trying to do and not simply stroking your own ego with fantasies of moral superiority.
Supposing there are some people who are genuinely bloodthirsty and only want revenge; it's not likely that anything you say will make them feel guilty and change their minds. The majority of us, however, do have much more on our minds than just revenge. We have already weighed all the moral implications, which are much more complex than you make them out to be, and we still believe that necessity outweighs other considerations.
War is immoral. Any war. There is no such thing as a just war. Okay, I’ll concede that point. I’ll agree with anything else you might have to say about the morality of the situation. The truth is that I honestly do not want our country to go to war. I do not want for American soldiers to have to face death in the streets of Bagdad. I do not want for Iraqi civilians to be hurt. Let’s get past that point, shall we? Let’s also get past the repeated demands for a “smoking gun.” Exactly what kind of evidence would be acceptable to the anti-defense people? If you had the CIA and British Intelligence documents in your own hands chances are you would still claim that it was not enough evidence. The gun exists. We all know that.
Now let’s start the debate. Dissent is a good thing. I want an alternative to war. What can you suggest other than just doing nothing and hoping the problem will go away, or trying the same things that have not worked in the past?
Friday, September 27, 2002
I feel better now
I just sent the following "nastygram" to ABC News via the contact form on their site. I want to send the same via snail mail to slightly increase the chances that someone might actually read it but it's going to take some more digging to find their snail mail address.
On the morning of September 11, 2001, when I heard that something was going on at the World Trade Center I turned on the TV and somehow ended up on ABC. Probably it just happened to be on that channel already. I never used to watch the news regularly, but after those three days when I hardly turned the TV off at all I started turning on ABC News every evening.
In those first days after September 11th I think you did perform a valuable service, not so much as a source of information but in bringing the nation together in front of their TV sets. We needed that feeling of togetherness. However, in the year since then I have become increasingly aware of how irrelevant TV news really is. Your reports are not only biased they are blatantly misleading and often outright dishonest. I watch your program not to be informed but to find out what the more gullible segment of the population is being fed.
I was finally prompted to write to you because of your lead story last night which you began with the statement that President Bush had “suddenly” produced evidence of a connection between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. Your use of the word “suddenly” was entirely innappropriate. The connection has been known about for months at least. The presentation of new evidence supporting what everyone already knows can in no way be considered “sudden.”
This is typical of your reporting on the War on Terrorism and world news in general. By carefully choosing which events to report, which details of those events to include and by careful wording to get the desired emotional response you are attempting to soothe the nation back into dangerous pre-September 11 complacency and to promote your anti-defense adgenda.
This of course is not your only adgenda. As example take the story of the woman who was caught on parking lot security cameras spanking her child. Yes, spanking not beating. This woman probably wouldn’t win any Parent of the Year award but you took a minor incident, something that happens in parking lots every day, and tried turn it into the Monster of the Week story. Then when the real story started coming out you suddenly dropped it.
Your half hour news show actually contains no more than 5 to 10 minutes of anything that remotely resembles real news. The rest is just invented scandals and fluff. There is plenty of real news that you could be reporting instead. What about the case of the Nigerian woman who has been sentenced to death by stoning for having a child out of wedlock. You should be all over that story, but no, that one doesn’t quite fit your preconceived story-line. Your “news” programs have all the honesty and maturity of an action-adventure cartoon, with “good guys” and “bad guys” who always act according to character. In your story-line America is always bad, Third-world cultures are always good; conservatives are always bad, liberals are always good; parents are always bad; teachers are always good. Anything that doesn’t support these notions simply isn’t reported.
More and more people now days are getting their news from independent sites on the Internet. The time is coming soon when you will have to either reform or just give up reporting the news altogether. You will fight it. The major media will try everything in their power to shut down or discredit independent news sources, but it won’t work. Once people have experienced true freedom of expression, and freedom of choice, it won’t be easy to take it away from them.
You've gotta wonder about a guy who would think up a blog title like this one.
Could be Useful to Keep in Mind
I'm sure many bloggers will recognize these.
This Google search is a little scary.
Thursday, September 26, 2002
I'll bet it sounds like crap
This harpsichord is built entirely from Lego blocks. I think Legos are cool and I would love to see this. There is an MP3 but I don't want to take the time to download it right now. Maybe sometime tomorrow when I'm not actually doing anything on the computer. The phone lines in my area are so old they could have been installed by Alexander G. Bell himself. I started to download it but the little box said that it would take 7 minutes, which for me means something close to half an hour.
Anyway, sorry for rambling on. The materials that a harpsichord is constructed from affect how it sounds. People with more experience than I have can tell you the manufacturer of an instrument just by listening to it. The Lego block harpsichord is merely a stunt of course. The idea is not to make an instrument that sounds good but to make a playable instrument from Lego blocks. Still...I take stuff like this very seriously. :-)
Via Thaks Cool Links.
Politics, Law and Autism
I also found this blog today. I remember linking to another autism blog a few months ago. I need to try to find it in my archives later and help these two get together if they don't already know each other.
More on Israel
There hasn't been much interest in my earlier post. I guess I'm not surprised. The conflict has been going on so long it has become a rather tiresome subject. I did receive two more responses.
Acidman has posted a thoughtful response. Yeah. Civilized people are always more restrained, but what I mainly had in mind is all the times, not just recently but as far back as I can remember, every time Israel launches a military operation our leaders in Washington start getting all nervous and telling them to ease up.
The other response was via email from Mike of Views from the Outside. He made some good points and gave me stuff to think about. I'm reluctant to quote email directly without the author's express permission, so instead I'll link to this recent post which says much the same thing as the email.
As I said this started me thinking and led me to at least a partial answer to my question. I've always had a problem with retaliation for retaliation's sake. One retaliation leads to another and another and another, endlessly. Israel needs to have specific military goals and a strategy for accomplishing those goals. This is what I think their friends in Washington need to be telling them instead of just telling them not to retaliate.
In the Line of Fire
Relevant Google Referrals For a Change!
At least a third of my hits so far today have been from Google searches on the words tumbling woman statue or tumbling woman sculpture - something I actually did write about. It always makes me feel good to think that people might actually have found what they were looking for.
One more interesting search: Andrea Harris trumpet. Well, you can certainly find Andrea in my blogroll, but I have no idea whether or not she plays the trumpet. I don't remember her mentioning it.
Response to Israel Question
I don't know if this is going to work. Blogger is acting very strange this morning.
So far I have received only one response, via email, to my last post yesterday. It came from JB whose old blog is now blank. I found a blog listed as JB's Latest Incarnation on Acidman's blogroll but it's blank also.
The email is one of those kind that I feel does not even merit any response but I did say below that I would link to any response and since there's nothing to link to I guess I should at least acknowledge the email. First of all JB sent a long list of U.N. resolutions against Israel followed by a long list of U.N. resolutions vetoed by the United States. And the point is? So the whole world hates Jews. I take pride in the fact that the U.S. is on the right side even if it means standing against the whole world. But that doesn't answer my question which was: Why does everyone, even those who support Israel, advise Israel against defending itself?
The rest of JB's email was even more irrelevant to this topic so I feel no obligation to respond to it. I'll only say two things - 1) Anyone who throws around the word "truth" too much should automatically be distrusted. 2) The Constitution is, and was intended to be, a living document, not a stone tablet to be worshipped without question or debate.
This has gotten off to a bad start but I'm still hoping for some interesting inter-blog debate on my orginal question. (scroll down to the entry titled "Something I Don't Understand")
Wednesday, September 25, 2002
Something I Don't Understand
I'm not being facetious. Well, maybe I am a little bit, but I really don't understand. I only started really paying attention to the news last year - about the same time a lot of other people suddenly started paying attention to the news. Since we got connected to the Internet about 5 or 6 years ago I've been getting more news but still mostly just headlines. Before that, if it wasn't big enough to interrupt prime time programming I was oblivious. I just wanted to say that because what I'm about to say might sound incredibly ignorant.
What I don't understand is why it is supposedly necessary for Israel to "show restraint." Because it will piss off the Arabs? So what? They hate Israel anyway. I think it's pretty clear to everyone except a few idiotarian 1960's throwbacks that diplomacy, restraint and attempts at peaceful settlement only makes Islamists think we are weak and encourages even greater violence, while a show of strength, far from enraging them, sends them packing.
So why shouldn't Israel fight their enemies aggressively? If Israel, with U.S. backing, were to show strength instead of restraint perhaps they would gain a little respect from their neighbors. The Arabs will always hate Israel but they might be a little better behaved if they also feared Israel.
I eagerly await enlightenment. Just give me heads-up and I will link to any responses to this post.
I have been impatient regarding the "War on Terrorism" but I keep reminding myself of what President Bush said last fall about this being a war like no other, and that we would not be aware of everything that was going on. On the other hand, I do expect to see some action. How can we possibly win by sitting around for months talking about war?
Even from a political standpoint this seems senseless. A majority of Americans are in favor of invading Iraq. Add to those, the many people who are not too strongly opposed and therefore likely to be supportive once the war begins, and politically it's a can't lose situation for Bush. As for support from our "allies," nothing builds support like success and once Saddam is gone a lot of his neighbors, who don't dare support us now, will be thankful.
A few half-hearted plugs.
Man Without Qualities - Political blog. I just found this one a few minutes ago and haven't spent enough time reading it to form much of an opinion yet. Serious and well-written.
Offbeat News - Nothing but links. Sports, soft news. Little politics.
Thak's Cool Links - Very short posts, lots of links, many of them unusual.
Morning Update - Opposite of the last two: all commentary, no links.
Different Strings - Just found this one today and darn it I can't remember where I first saw it so I can't give credit. Again, I haven't been reading it long enough to form much of an opinion, but in particular I noticed this post about a satire website being forced to shut down because it offended some people.
Hidden Thoughts and Interests - I sort of owe this lady from Finland a link. I've been reading this blog occasionally for quite a while now. I didn't link sooner because we are politically incompatible but most of the time her writing is not specifically political and she does write very well. Her blog deserves a lot more attention.
Two From Karen De Coster
Karen shares an angry letter from one of her readers. She calls it "an excellent letter." Can that mean that she actually agrees with this nut?
Who are terrorists afraid of? Who could kick in their door at any second and kill their entire families with impunity? Who do the terrorists hate and fear?
Okay, I'm not entirely happy with the whole "Homeland Security" thing but aren't we exaggerating
The mistake the terrorists are making is thinking that dead American and Israeli citizens will somehow sway policy. Big mistake... "Leaders" in D.C.
Actually I do worry that our leaders are not doing enough to protect us. There are a lot more wackos like the ones in Waco a few years ago and I'd feel safer if the government did more to rid the planet of folks like that both at home and abroad.
All I can say is thank God for the Internet, because if the citizens of this world ever prevail over this crap, it'll be the Internet that does it.
You got that right!
* * *
Now here's the one I really like! Karen wrote a brilliant, soul-stirring rant about SUV haters.
But folks who can't drop this issue are small-minded, Woody Allen-like neurotics that can't leave big-minded people alone. The SUV Haters are typically wimpy, high-strung, shallow, nervous types. They are entirely self-infatuated in order to overcome their obsessive insecurities. They never cease to worry about what everyone else is doing, and they let us know that. They claim some oddball, sensitivity-based, moral high ground in terms of vehicle choice, yet insist on reminding us constantly of this, as if they must internally legitimize their own choices.
Go read it. There's a lot more and it gets even better.
Franz von Suppe's Poet and Peasant Overture and Why I Chose it as my Blog Title
I think I might have posted something about this before but for all my wonderful new readers, here it is again.
As the musical director of the prestigious Theatre-an-der-Wein, Suppe was called upon to produce an enormous amount of incidental music--Viennese stage plays at the time were usually preceded by an orchestral overture, and would have several pieces of incidental music worked into the plot. Though he was tremendously prolific, Suppe was not above recycling old works for new situations. The Poet and Peasant Overture takes its title from a now-obscure 1846 play by Karl Elmar. However, Suppe almost surely composed the music a year or more earlier, for another, equally obscure comedy called Lots of Money, Short of Sleep, and may have used it for two other plays in the meantime. Suppe sold the overture to the Munich music publisher Joseph Aibl for a pittance (5 Gulden -- the equivalent of about $25.00), who made a great profit from it over the next several years, issuing at least fifteen different arrangements of the piece.
I chose "Poet and Peasant" as the name of this weblog because, in addition to being one of my favorite short pieces of music, I thought the title would make a good metaphorical description of me. I have an intense interest in the arts, poetry actually somewhat less than other arts but since poetry is associated with an artistic nature it serves to represent that side of my personality. I specifically want to make it clear that I am merely a consumer not a creator. Everyone at some time or other has written some poetry, if only because your sixth grade English teacher forced you to write it. That no more makes one a poet than childhood finger-painting entitles one to claim the label of "painter."
The other side of me is the "Peasant" - simply, a common person. I was born into a working class family, attended public schools, took a few classes at a community college, and have held several menial jobs. I am currently enjoying life as a somewhat slothful country housewife and Web-addict.
Lynn's Etiquette Advice
An important social skill is learning to recognize a polite brush-off. Of course, you may decide that the way to get what you want is to ignore these brush-offs and there is some logic in that stance. However, if you decide to continue nagging at me after I have attempted to politely disengage, you have no right to be shocked if subsequent brush-offs are far less courteous.
That's not directed at anyone specific; just a recurring annoyance.
A Different Kind of War Blog
The Great Wars of the 20th Century is apparently new. So far just a few links to history sites but the idea has potential. Welcome to the blogoshpere, Maureen, and best of luck.
Tuesday, September 24, 2002
Copyright on Silence
I suppose I should have something to say about the John Cage 4'33" plagiarism case. I've left comments here and there. I'll just leave it at that and link to this hilarious story. I don't know if it's true or not but it's one of my all time favorite music anecdotes.
Bach and Family
Don't miss this CD review at Mostly Music.
BACH Arias & cantatas by Johann Michael Bach, Johann Christoph Bach,Johann Sebastian Bach and Georg Melchior Hoffmann. Gerard Lesne (alto), Il Seminário Musicale. Astrée, E8873 (59:12)
I'm not sure why but I almost felt like standing up and cheering when I read this post at Amish Tech Support. To be honest, until the last few days I have rarely read ATS, but that's only because it takes so long to load. It's probably fine for everybody else but I'm using stone knives and bear skins to connect to the Internet out here. (Star Trek fans should get that reference) However, since he's re-designed it his page seems to load a wee bit faster so I'll try to check in on it once in a while and probably even add it to my blogroll.
What he said...
A.C. Douglas rants about the bias, irrelevance and outright dishonesty of TV news.
The purpose of the development of Western civilization was so that Mozart could be born into the world that he was born into. I must say that — not consistently — but when Mozart finds that . . .that height, it's just beyond any ordinary or extraordinary person's idea of beauty. I think that's why Mozart is difficult for some people who don't have experience with classical music, because this is music that is so beautiful, it's almost impossible to relate to.
As I said in Sasha's comments, I used to talk about Mozart like that but I kept getting flamed. ~sigh~ So few people truly understand.
I started this blog with illusions of grandeur, (or maybe it was megalomania) illusions which lasted for maybe an hour or two before reality set in. And now that I've grown accustomed to the security of being a nobody, I have been blogrolled by the mighty Instapundit. Suddenly I feel the pressure to be relevant. Daily relevance might be too much for me to handle but if you'll stick around and be patient I can promise rare moments of brilliance.
Monday, September 23, 2002
I'm sorry to say I've never met one of these people face to face, or even in a chat room for that matter. I would really like to talk with one of them. Surely they can't really be serious! It has to be just a way of getting attention or of living some kind of fantasy of being a heroic defender of the downtrodden. Or maybe they're just desperate for attention. Please... If there's anyone out there who really believes that ducks feel degraded by the AFLAC commercials, talk to me. Let's exchange a few emails. I'm serious. Insanity fascinates me.
Laurence Simon for President!
Update:Additional suggestions for important positions: (more to be added as I think of them)
Sunday, September 22, 2002
The Controversial Sculpture
Is sculptor Eric Fischl's Tumbling Woman art? There's no question about it. We're not talking about parts of butchered animals or a urinal or other found objects put on display merely to shock or to puzzle. The question to ask is - is it in bad taste?
At first I wasn't sure how I felt about this, but I started thinking about another recent art controversy - the performance of Wagner in Israel. In that case everything seemed absolutely clear to me - Art should transcend politics. I have had unkind words for people who say they like Wagner's music but can't listen to it because of the composer's infamous anti-semitism. (Personally, I dont' like Wagner and it has nothing to do with politics) My feeling has always been, if you like the music put everything else out of your mind and just listen to it.
Ah, but a sculpture is different isn't it? It's visual and we are visual creatures. And Tumbling Woman is a very graphic and disturbing sculpture depicting something that is still very fresh in many people's minds. Was it insensitive to display the statue? Is one year after the September 11 attacks too soon for such graphic artistic representations of the event?
On the other side, don't people need to learn to accept that some art is supposed to be disturbing? Maybe people who don't want to be disturbed by art should just stay home and hang Thomas Kinkade and Norman Rockwell prints on their walls. In most any other situation this would be my position, but this time I'm not so sure. I understand the feelings of those who are offended by the statue.
However, none of these musings have led me to change my basic position on art and that is - freedom is messy. Freedom means that it is okay for an artist to create anything that comes to mind and call it art, and it is equally okay for people to be offended by it and demand that it be removed from public display. It is also okay for other people to declare that those who are offended by a work of art are a bunch of silly twits. And freedom means that it is okay for the owners of galleries and other properties where art is displayed to give in to the demands of the majority or of a handful of protesters, or to just completely ignore everyone and do whatever they want to. See what I mean? Messy. But we wouldn't want it any other way.
Update:Last paragraph edited for coherence
More September 11 Art
The Why Project, is a site dedicated to September 11 art. Art from many different countries includes both images and poetry. Of the few I have looked at one or two might be disturbing; most are relatively unoriginal. I will go back and browse some more when I have time and I might post links to specific images if I find something interesting or especially worthwhile.
Saturday, September 21, 2002
Stuff You've Gotta Get
Scott, helped me fix my template so I'm giving them a little plug but I really do like the space kitty and probably would have gotten around to buying one eventually anyway.
Just discovered via my Sitemeter stats: Kevin Whited's Reflections. Warblogging plus lots of sports, a little music, local politics and other odds and ends.
Friday, September 20, 2002
Questions and Lists
I never do questionnaires, but today I actually found two that I want to answer.
Ten movies you'd watch over and over:
Nine people you enjoy the company of:
Eight things you're wearing:
Seven Things on your Mind:
Six objects you touch everyday:
Five things you do everyday:
Four bands that you couldn't live without:
Three of your favorite songs at this moment:
Two people that have influenced your life the most:
One person that you love more than anyone in the world:
1. Would you say that you're good at keeping in touch with people?
2. Which communication method do you usually prefer/use: e-mail, telephone, snail mail, blog comments, or meeting in person? Why?
3. Do you have an instant messenger program? How many? Why/why not? How often do you use it?
4. Do most of your close friends live nearby or far away?
5. Are you an "out of sight, out of mind" person, or do you believe that "distance makes the heart grow fonder"?
(Now, please, somebody slap some sense into me if you ever catch me doing one of these questionnaries again.)
He likes Bach so he can't be all bad. I'll keep an eye on this one for a while.
More Oklahoma Blogs
This morning I found this list of Oklahoma blogs. The site is called Globe of Blogs so you can search other locations also. I've barely looked at them but already see a couple that I will be looking in on and possibly adding to my list later on. OkiePundit appears to be mostly about Oklahoma politics. (I love his post yesterday about the "faith based initiative.") Palace Chime is very artsy. One thing that bothers me about it is that there are no dates on the posts, just a day of the week.
Update:Here's one more good one...very good: Cato The Youngest.
Thursday, September 19, 2002
I usually don't pay much attention to popular song lyrics. Even when I hear and understand the lyrics they often just sort of go right through me so that I might as well be listening to a foreign language. That's not always the case but very often it is. That's why at first I was totally confused by Kathy's short post about the Kansas song Dust in the Wind. I had to look up the lyrics.
I close my eyes, only for a moment, and the moment's gone
Then I got it. I had actually remembered most of the lyrics perfectly; I just hadn't made that connection before, probably because I haven't heard the song in a very long time. It was a little chilling, suddenly getting it. Healing? Healed? Yes, I really do think so. I've been feeling better in the past few days than I have all year. But I guess maybe there will always be moments...
The smiley :-) is 20 years old.
[Scott] Fahlman is known for his work with neural networks -- a computer technique designed to mimic the human brain -- and helping develop Common Lisp, a computer language that uses symbols instead of numbers, but the bearded scientist is perhaps best known for a flash of inspiration that helped to define Internet culture, in all of its ungrammatical glory.
You can see some of the smiley's many offspring here.
Blog of Note
This blog is much better than its title suggests.
Who Is Our Enemy?
An excellent essay by Steven den Beste. We all know it's true and it can't be said too many times: all cultures are NOT equal. I have a hunch that the majority of the people in the Arab/Muslim world will celebrate when they are finally set free from their backward, oppressive culture.
Daniel Barenboim Attacked in Jerusalem
A group of political activists attacked pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim in a Jerusalem restaurant, calling him a "traitor" for performing in the West Bank city of Ramallah last week, the Tel Aviv newspaper Ha'aretz reports. Barenboim's wife fended off the assault by throwing vegetables at the attackers, who were identified as activists from the rightist Kach party. The newspaper did not indicate that anyone was hurt.
In my opinion, art should transcend politics and apparently Mr. Barenboim believes this also. He is a true hero and has my greatest admiration. I fear for his safety in this insane world.
Wednesday, September 18, 2002
More Than One Starry Night
I almost always have music on in the house, except for the evenings, when someone in the family is usually watching TV. Mornings I always try to take the time to have a cup of tea and just listen to something. But it's been well over a year since I have done any deep listening - closing my eyes and concentrating only on the music, like a form of meditation. I used to try to do that once or twice every week but last summer I had few chances to grab half an hour of uninterrupted solitude, and since September 11 the world has been too much on my mind.
This afternoon I finally decided that it was time to try again. I picked something easy: Dvorak's 9th Symphony. It draws the mind in so easily that concentration requires no effort. (Several years ago I had a very weird experience with this Symphony. Maybe I'll tell about it sometime.) This afternoon's listening was fine - no weird or profound experience, just a refreshing vacation for the mind.
I have musical obsessions. I will listen to the same or similar music for weeks or months at a time. Sometimes it's an obsession with one particular composer, sometimes an instrument or a form. For the past year I've mostly listened to dark choral works, lots of Bach, and in the past few months a lot of Hovhaness - all dark, somber or "spiritual" sounding music. I won't say that my musical mood was entirely influenced by September 11 because I was already headed in this direction anyway. But it hasn't been like my "normal" obsessions which are intensely joyful experiences. It has become more like a rut, so I'm thinking that I need to start deliberately choosing something different even though I continue to be drawn to the same music week after week.
After the Dvorak, for late afternoon casual listening I picked Beethoven's Piano Concerti Nos. 1 and 4. I think I'll continue tomorrow with some old favorites that I haven't listened to for a long time. However, I don't think I can stay away from the Hovhaness string quartets CD, Spirit Murmur, which I got last week. It might turn out to be my first real obsession in a long time. At least I hope so.
If this looks like I will do anything to get a few more hits... well, you might be right, but this is interesting.
Another One From the Recently Updated List
Beautiful Oblivion - a variety of different links with short comments. (It's interesting to see the different things people do with that same blogger template.)
From the Recently Udated List
I like to call attention to blogs that are out of the ordinary. This one is written by two Irish students traveling in Southeast Asia.
Jim Schwab says that he is starting to come around.
I've been trying to come up with a deep and meaningful post on how I feel about attacking Iraq. Since I still think Al-Queada should be our main focus, I don't think invading Iraq and deposing their dictator is our first priority. However, ever since I read the transcript of Bush's speech to the U.N. I've been starting to wonder if doing just that isn't in the best interests of the world in general, if not just the U.S.
There's more, including a list of the major points he's been considering, the first and last of which are "war sucks." Yes, I'll agree with him about that. I think everyone can agree on that point. That's why I feel we should have the war over there instead of over here.
One of the favorite tactics of peace activists is to accuse so-called "hawks" of being bloodthirsty and lusting for revenge. I think they know better. If it were true there would be no point in saying it because the obvious response would be something like "so what?" But they know that almost no one actually wants war so they use this accusation in an attempt to make their opponents feel guilty.
Regarding Jim's comment that Since I still think Al-Queada should be our main focus, I don't think invading Iraq and deposing their dictator is our first priority. - I think taking out Saddam Hussein might be an important step toward that goal. Personally, I wish our government would quit pussy-footing around with the U.N. and just get it over with. I don't think we can rely on what other countries are saying they think we should do. Chances are once it's done a lot of the people who are now urging caution will be relieved.
Apologies to Mozilla Users
I meant to say something about this before but it slipped my mind. N.Z. Bear informed me a couple of weeks ago that this page looks like crap in Mozilla. I am very concerned about that because I don't want to drive away any readers, but I'm afraid I haven't the faintest idea what to do about it other than changing templates again, which I really don't want to do. This started out as one of Blogger's standard templates. All I did was change the colors and get rid of that tacky looking dotted line that was around each of the tables. I'm sorry to say that I'm just barely computer literate and tend to be inordinately proud of myself when I figure out how to do something simple like change colors, but if anyone out there has any suggestions for fixing this mess please email me.
Another Coffee Blog
I'm a little disappointed that I can't read this one. (It appears to be Italian but I could be mistaken.) But I thought I'd link to it anyway since it's a nicely designed page. Smoke and Coffee.
Tuesday, September 17, 2002
Margaret Atwood is uncomfortable with the rich variety to be found in science fiction.
"Science fiction" is the box in which [Ursula K. Le Guin's] work is usually placed, but it's an awkward box: it bulges with discards from elsewhere. Into it have been crammed all those stories that don't fit comfortably into the family room of the socially realistic novel or the more formal parlor of historical fiction, or other compartmentalized genres: westerns, gothics, horrors, gothic romances, and the novels of war, crime, and spies. Its subdivisions include science fiction proper (gizmo-riddled and theory-based space travel, time travel, or cybertravel to other worlds, with aliens frequent); science-fiction fantasy (dragons are common; the gizmos are less plausible, and may include wands); and speculative fiction (human society and its possible future forms, which are either much better than what we have now, or much worse). However, the membranes separating these subdivisions are permeable, and osmotic flow from one to another is the norm.
She goes on like that for quite a while in what is supposed to be a review of a new collection of short stories by Ursula K. Le Guin. She admits that some of the "literary ancestors" of science fiction are "of the utmost respectability" but disapproves of the "sluttish reputation" of science fiction. Okay, so not all science fiction is great literature but it only has a "sluttish reputation" amoung snobby critics who look down their noses at anything that is readable and entertaining.
As for Le Guin, I'm not a big fan. I've read a couple of books and liked them well enough but I think she lets her political agenda overwhelm the story.
Via Hot Buttered Death.
Just put down that coffee and go read it.
West Nile Virus
Birds Etcetera seems to be a good source of information on this subject. (as related to humans, not just birds) Scroll through the past couple of weeks' posts.
Witch Hunt? Where?
Jorggy at the Argentina Diary compares the recent arrests of suspected terrorists to the mass hysteria caused by Orson Welles' 1938 War of the Worlds broadcast and to the Salem Witch Trials in the late 1600's. Well, maybe we're just a little bit jumpy these days but I would hardly call it "mass hysteria." If anything, authorities are too hesitant about hunting down suspected terrorists for fear of upsetting the Politically Correct. If I think I hear someone talking about a terrorist attack you better believe I'm going to go to the local authorities and if they don't make an arrest somebody is going to hear from me and if I don't like the response that somebody is not getting my vote in the next election.
Symbols of Faith
Oh no! Another one already!
I received another one of those temptation filled Berkshire Record Outlet flyers in the mail today. If they keep sending them this often I might have to get a real job again. I'm going to just put this one aside and maybe I'll forget all about it. (Yeah, right!)
Douglas Adams on Religion
Now, the invention of the scientific method is, I'm sure we'll all agree, the most powerful intellectual idea, the most powerful framework for thinking and investigating and understanding and challenging the world around us that there is, and it rests on the premise that any idea is there to be attacked. If it withstands the attack then it lives to fight another day and if it doesn't withstand the attack then down it goes. Religion doesn't seem to work like that. It has certain ideas at the heart of it which we call sacred or holy or whatever. What it means is, "Here is an idea or a notion that you're not allowed to say anything bad about; you're just not. Why not?--because you're not!" If somebody votes for a party that you don't agree with, you're free to argue about it as much as you like; everybody will have an argument but nobody feels aggrieved by it. If somebody thinks taxes should go up or down you are free to have an argument about it. But on the other hand if somebody says 'I mustn't move a light switch on a Saturday,' you say, "I respect that."
No No No! I didn't say it!
I am being linked all over the place (well, two places) for an anonymous post in Kathy Kinsley's comments. This is the comment that seems to be so popular:
My personal favorite is compromise. We see this all the time in the gun control debate. "We don't want to ban all your guns, just some of them. Why won't you compromise?"
As you can see there's no name on the post. A little way down in the comments I accidentally left my name off a post ( September 15, 2002 04:54 PM) then later I posted again to acknowledge that it was mine, noting the time.
I first noticed that the comment had been attributed to me by The Safety Valve and posted the following in the comments there:
...I didn't say that about compromise. In fact I had an issue with that guy but I didn't respond directly because it wasn't so much what that person said as what I'm used to hearing come from the "they'll get my gun when they pry it out of my cold dead hands" bunch. My thinking is that his definition of "compromise" is "give me everything I want then we'll see if there's anything left over for you." But like I said, that's just my feeling on the matter. Things are lively enough at Kathy's blog already without me throwing gasoline on the fire.
Now I see that Horologium has picked up on it. Thanks for the links, guys but I didn't say it.
Monday, September 16, 2002
Linked without comment.
These are good ones...really. Read them at the Redwood Dragon.
The Battle for the Language
Kathy has really started something. She has several posts on misuse of words beginning with this one on Sept. 14, which at last count had 48 comments. Kathy is trying to start a movement to "take back the language" and I'm behind her all the way but it's not going to be easy. Predictably some people are less interested in using words correctly than they are in protecting their claim to politically charged words.
Drink to the Rainforest
Robert L. Badgett has a wonderful piece on an environmentally friendly coffee plantation. Drink up.
Now I am worried
Iraq has agreed "unconditionally" to resume weapons inspections. Well, I'm sure everyone can breathe a sigh of relief now. No doubt the Iraqis will be just as cooperative with UN inspectors now as they were in the 1990's.
One Hand Clapping has more.
In the Eyes of a Child
Something happened last weekend - the weekend before the September 11 anniversary - that I considered writing about at the time, then dismissed it but it keeps coming back to mind. It was just a very small, insignificant happening and not at all unusual but I keep thinking there has to be some meaning there.
I had my two and half year old grandson sitting on my lap. He touched the U.S. flag pin I had on the front of my t-shirt and said, "It's a flag." I confirmed that, Yes, it's a flag," with the cheerful enthusiasm one normally uses when talking with two year olds. Then, supplementing his limited vocabulary with gestures and sound effects he cheerfully described the planes hitting the World Trade Center and the collapse of the Towers. Of course, he has no idea that these images seen on TV are any different from the many images he has seen from action adventure movies.
The first thing that struck me was that my grandson associates the Flag with the images of the WTC attack. I'm not quite sure what to make of that. In the long run, it probably won't mean anything. Hopefully he will grow up and understand what our flag really stands for.
The main thing that I have been thinking of in connection with that brief conversation is action adventure movies. I have watched quite a few, mostly because that's what the rest of the family likes but I have to admit that I have enjoyed some of them myself. It has been many years since I was the least bit impressed with explosions, car crashes and other spectacularly unrealistic movie disasters. Such scenes are so common I can almost always predict when they are about to happen. Overall, though, a "good" action movie can be a pleasant diversion. Or at least they used to be.
Let's consider something for a moment. Imagine it's June 2001. The attack on the WTC has not happened and could not possibly happen. But, let's be honest, if it had not happened there would have been a pretty good chance that sooner or later some movie producer would have imagined it. (In fact, I believe such a plot was mentioned in an episode of The Lone Gunmen TV show) So let's go back to June 2001, when we were all comfortable in the belief that nothing really, really bad could ever happen in America, and let's imagine that a movie comes out in which terrorists fly two planes into the World Trade Center, with all the realism available to Hollywood through the use of models and computer imaging. Now, let's be honest with ourselves. We would have loved it wouldn't we? Assuming good special effects, popular stars and a good soundtrack, people would have flocked to the theatres, lining up around the block to get in to see it - the whole time secure in the belief that nothing like that could ever really happen.
I lost my taste for disaster movies last year, but as far as I can tell most people haven't and that bothers me. I think the worst thing about movie violence is that none of the characters in the movie ever seem to care. Cars and buildings blossom into giant fireballs and it's all in a day's work. Where is all the screaming, the crying, the emotional trauma that lasts for months or even years? But it's all just for entertainment isn't it? A pleasant diversion, an adventure where everything comes out okay in the end and the heros live to brag about it.
I guess I'm alone in this but watching cars and buildings blossom into giant fireballs is not fun anymore. Watching people get shot to pieces is not fun anymore either. And it bothers me that there are so many people out there who still do think it's fun. It bothers me even more that we are showing our children that violence is fun. No, I do not think that kids are going to grow up and commit acts of violence just because they see it in the movies. That's not the point. The point is that no one should ever think that violence is fun.
Sunday, September 15, 2002
My visits last week:
Sun. 9/8 - 68
~sigh~ A brief moment on the edge of Instapundit's spotlight and now back to my dim little corner of the blogosphere.
I assume everyone on Blogspot is getting the 503 error. I found that if you Refresh and publish again it usually works even though you'll still get the 503 error. Sometimes you have to try it twice before it will work.
Meryl Yourish says that I am a sexist. To be precise, I'm probably a misogynist. Seriously, intelligence seems to be a relatively rare commodity amoung both sexes. For some reason I just happen to have more male friends than female and sometimes that's a frustrating situation.
On a different topic - Meryl also talks about her crisis of conscience regarding linking. I can definitely relate to that. I have acknowledged before that I am way too sensitive about political matters these days. I have linked to some blogs, then later I will read something that makes me want to kick them off my list but if they've linked to me I'm stuck. But that's only a small part of my own crisis of conscience. I like to think I'm an open minded person. I often find blogs that I like in some ways but at the same time there's something about them that makes me wary about linking to them. I think everyone understands that just because you add a blogger to your permanent list doesn't necessarily mean that you agree with them so why do I worry about it? I also think most bloggers have some limits as to who they will link to so I feel like I have to draw a line somewhere. It's those blogs that come close to the line that I have trouble with.
I do have a small list of blogs I need to add to my list and Meryl is one of them. No problem there, except that I'm getting too many to keep up with since I feel that I should actually read the blogs I link to. There are some on the list that I haven't looked in on in a couple of months so I might be dropping a few.
From the Most Recently Updated List
The title Eternal Vigilance grabbed my attention. Just a quick look - it appears to be mostly links and quotes. I like the Heinlein quote he posted yesterday.
Take Back the Language
Saturday, September 14, 2002
I must be nuts!
As much time as I spend on this blog you would think that the last thing I need is another one, right? Well...we'll see. I wanted another blog for the fun stuff I come across and want to share so it won't be cluttering up this blog. There's a permanent link at the top of the right-hand column. I don't know how regularly I'll update it but check it out once in a while when you need a laugh. And couldn't we all use more laughs these days!
Anyone who is interested in reading about country living, go visit CountryByNet. I registered there as "MsDogcreek." (Dog Creek being the name of the dry ditch that meanders across the back side of our place) I probably won't be spending a lot of time there, because of all the other things I already have to take up my time, but they look like nice folks.
Friday, September 13, 2002
I refuse to even go to Salon.com and read the article on "Forbidden Thoughts." What I've read of it on a number of blogs is quite enough. I think Jane Gault sums it up best:
...the Salon troll, Forbidden Thougts on 9/11, which the editor describes as "puncturing orthodoxies", a task it accomplishes in much the same way the commuter in the next train seat "punctures outmoded conventions" by picking his nose and belching.
Thursday, September 12, 2002
Simple and Appropriate
I should probably make a couple of resolutions. 1) I should resolve to stop worrying over "standards," and 2) I should resolve to give up on trying to categorize everything and just quit screwing with it. But I'm afraid they would be just like "New Year's Resolutions" - made to be broken.
Life Affirming Activity
Tomorrow I have to make 50 sandwiches for the high school football team. Blogging forecast: slim to none.
Day After Ramblings
I'm wondering if other bloggers are having difficulty getting back to daily routine. At most sites I've visited blogging is light to non-existant and I don't know what to write about because I don't want to keep on talking about yesterday but I don't want to talk about anything else either.
It occurs to me that the anniversary of September 11th is emotionally more analogous to a normal funeral than were any of the public memorial services held in the early weeks after the attacks. Part of the purpose of a funeral is to aid in closure. A number of people have said that there can be no closure while the murderers are still out there plotting to attack us again, and they are right if by "closure" you mean getting over it and going back to the way things were before, but in another sense there can be closure. It can mean entering a new phase, adjusting to a new reality.
The day after a funeral is too soon to be "over it," especially when violence was involved, but there is usually the beginning of a desire to move on - not to go back to the old life but to adjust to the new one, but sometimes at first we're not sure how. That gives us a "what now?" feeling. I'm thinking that's what is going on today. It's been a year; it's time to move forward, but how? What now?
Often it's the little things that seem to matter the most. A gesture, a few words spoken, a single line email, can touch your heart and make your day.
I'm a pack rat. Reading through all the September 11 essays I started copying and saving some of my favorites. Why? I have four email accounts. The one I've had the longest is full of emails from 4 and 5 years ago, some from people I still hear from once in a while and some from people I just passed in cyberspace - a question asked and answered, or a comment about a book or a composer, and then we move on, our paths never crossing again. But the email is still there taking up space in my mailbox. I've been devastated by the loss of conversations when the plug was pulled on message boards, and I still regret the loss. And yet, the few I had the chance to save I never look at. Will I ever look at these essays again? Perhaps a few of them. Perhaps next year. Or perhaps never.
A great observation: A little while ago my oldest son was commenting on the many patriotic displays he saw on the way to work yesterday, then concluded: The best thing I saw all day was an airplane taking off from Tulsa International. Like...HAHA! We're still doing it."
So many thoughts went through my head yesterday, many of them seeming very significant, worth passing on, but yesterday was yesterday and I don't want to spend too much time on it today. I didn't watch TV. I had planned to watch it some but decided that there was nothing they could show me that I really needed to see. Earlier in the week I had bought a book of photographs taken by NYPD photographers titled Above Hallowed Ground. There's something about a still photograph, a single instant in time captured and preserved, that is so much more poignant than TV images. The book has a number of aerial photographs of lower Manhattan engulfed in a cloud of smoke and debris. It's absolutely mind-boggling to look at.
I connected with some old friends whom I don't hear from very often anymore and spent relatively little time on reading blogs. Rather late in the day I discovered some of what I had been missing and intend to try to catch up today. It might be Monday before I get back to normal blogging. (whatever that is) Amoung the tributes I did read yesterday:
James Lileks found a unique way to point out how we have changed, how we haven't and how much different reality is from what we were expecting a year ago today.
I know I'm leaving out something that I thought was important to say but just a couple of personal notes and then I'll try to move on. First one of those little unimportant things that for some reason stand out. I don't know whether to consider this a minor coincidence or a "coming full circle" sort of thing. One year ago yesterday I received a CD that I had ordered a couple of weeks before. It was just one (which is unusal for me) because I ordered on impulse - one of those things I saw and just had to have. When it showed up that afternoon I was afraid that I would never be able to listen to it because I would always associate it with that day. Fortunately that turned out not to be the case. In fact, it's a bit strange how little association there is, probably because I put it aside and didn't listen to it for more than a month. Now here's the coincidence. Yesterday I received CDs in the mail. No, it's not much of a coincidence since I order CDs every one to two months, but still.... Today I will listen to these without any fear of bad associations.
Finally, totally irrelevant in the larger scheme of things, I was linked by Instapundit. When I checked my Sitemeter stats for the last time yesterday, at about 10pm, I had 437 hits. I was also linked by a lot of other nice folks and I thank you all. I don't mean to leave anyone out just because they're not Instapundit but there are so many. In the next week I plan to add more links to my blogroll.
Wednesday, September 11, 2002
My next door neighbor died three days before September 11. I regret that I didn’t know him better. He was a good neighbor. He was a Vietnam veteran, tall and thin with long graying hair and a beard that reached more than halfway to his belt-buckle. He had a one-man business working on Volkswagens and there were always several of them in his yard, at various stages of disassembly, parked in a nice neat row. He had two little dogs, named Hot-rod and Lug-nut, and a cat he called A.J., although he said it wasn’t really his cat. In his 50’s, he was too young to die but I have caught myself thinking ‘better three days before than three days after.’ He lived his entire life in the old world having no hint of what was about to happen.
The morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001 was as bright and perfect as a September day is ever likely to be – still summer but with a slight hint of autumn. I had Zelinka’s Requiem in D minor on the stereo and was at the computer. I noticed a headline at Yahoo that said something about a plane hitting the World Trade Center. I just assumed that some idiot amateur pilot had bounced a small plane off the side of one of the towers, breaking some windows, killing himself and injuring a few office workers, but it was unusual enough that I clicked on the link to see exactly what had happened. I waited for perhaps two minutes, but the page refused to load. I was used to Yahoo occasionally getting stuck so I gave up and went on to read my email.
A few minutes later my husband called from work and insisted that I turn on the TV. I never watch TV in the daytime and at this point I was confident in my “small plane/idiot amateur pilot” theory so it was with some reluctance that I turned on the TV. The first thing I saw was a view of the World Trade Center with a huge smoking hole in the side of the north tower. As I stood there watching, still on the phone, the second plane crashed into the south tower. Except to sleep, I didn’t turn off the TV for the next three days.
In years to come this is how we will remember September 11th. “Where were you when it happened?” “How did you first hear about it?” Forty or fifty years from now will it be just another day in history - a day when the six o’clock news closes with sixty seconds of videotape showing properly somber young reporters prompting seventy and eighty year olds to share their personal memories of the historic day?
In the days and weeks after September 11th we kept saying that the world had changed forever. It was not merely a statement of fact or opinion, but also an expression of our hopes and fears. We feared more attacks, an extended war, loss of liberty, our lives drastically changed. Some people hoped for a national “return to God.” Others hoped that religion, or at least the fundamentalist variety of it, would be forever discredited and marginalized. We hoped that our obsession with pop culture would be replaced by an appreciation of the important and meaningful things in life. We even dared to hope that politicians would start putting the best interests of the people before their own ambitions. Now, one year later, neither our worst fears nor our greatest hopes have come to pass.
Our world has certainly changed but in some ways it seems that it has changed too little, or changed in the wrong way. Our national obsession with pop culture is intact, as is our incredible capacity for getting worked up over trivia of all sorts while ignoring truly important matters. On the whole, believers in various ideologies, both religious and political, have not changed their stance. On the contrary, most are now even more vehement than ever in defending their positions no matter how irrelevant they have become.
Are we incapable of ever learning anything? What happened to the apparent moral clarity we experienced in the first weeks after September 11th? Was it nothing more than an illusion? Or do we have to be smacked in the face and bloodied in order to be capable of thinking clearly and making sensible decisions?
I was in New York almost twenty years earlier with my husband and our oldest son, then only 2 years old. My memories of the months we spent there had become almost as distant and vague as the memory of a dream. But a strange thing happened after September 11th. Those old memories of my time in New York became so clear that it was like remembering somewhere I had been only a week before. I was able to recall with perfect clarity all the sights I saw as I walked through the streets of America’s greatest city trying not to look too much like a tourist.
The day we chose to visit the World Trade Center turned out to be hazy with somewhat limited visibility. The elevator was crowded with nervously smiling tourists. I do not know if it was the world’s fastest elevator but it was quite a ride - 20 miles per hour straight up. I can’t remember exactly how long we stayed on top. Not long enough. I remember looking down on the Statue of Liberty through the mist. In the opposite direction, looking uptown, we could see the Chrysler Building gleaming golden in the hazy sunlight. It’s not hard to imagine office workers looking out the windows of the upper floors, enjoying the spectacular view on a crystal clear morning just before the world changed.
The events of September 11th have been compared to the attack on Pearl Harbor. I had not yet been born then but I am inclined to argue with that comparison. Pearl Harbor, though it is on American soil was, to most Americans, still a faraway place. People did not watch the Pearl Harbor attack live on television. They did not have the Internet to enable them to share their pain with people they had never met and receive notes of sympathy and support from people on the other side of the planet only hours, or even minutes, after it happened. The civilized world has never been more unified than it was for that brief time last fall.
It was the most horrific time most Americans can remember and yet it was a painfully glorious and exhilarating time as well. At first we didn’t know how to handle it. We wondered how we could possibly carry on even though we knew we would have to. Sporting events and concerts were cancelled, while other concerts were arranged in memorium. For every little thing we did in the first days and weeks after September 11 we had to ask, “Is it inappropriate? Is it too soon?” The very fact that we refer to the event by the date on which it happened shows that this was like nothing we had ever experienced before. Even the language is not adequate to name it. But we came together; we waved flags and rolled up our sleeves and went to work. The Towers collapsed but America still stands.
That time has passed and some people are saying that it’s time to get over it, time to heal and move on. I would not want to have future generations of Americans become like some groups, both at home and around the world, who continue to nurse ancient grudges generation after generation to the point that who they are is almost entirely defined by tragedies that no one living has ever experienced. And yet, the knowledge that future generations will not understand what September 11, 2001 meant to us, just as I can’t fully understand what Pearl Harbor meant to my grandparents, is almost unbearable. The fact that so many people already seem willing to “just get over it,” even more so. My hope is that every year on this date we will pause and remember and cry, and that the rest of the year, every year, we will smile and live life to its fullest.
One year after the event the shock has passed. My rage is mostly submerged but surfaces frequently when I read more details about the events and the people involved or when I read what masquerades as rational thought, telling us that it was America’s fault, America deserved it, or that we have no right to mourn our own loss when there is sufferring elsewhere in the world.
Most of all I feel an aching sense of loss: The loss of the Towers themselves, a magnificent symbol of the great acheivements America is capable of, and the loss of the world the way it used to be – without a shadow hanging over it. A world in which we didn’t think about war every day. A world in which we could see an airplane in the sky and see nothing but an airplane. A world in which the creepiest thing on television was The X-Files, not the evening news. A world in which idiots were funny, not frightening. A world in which every little thing didn’t seem so damned important. But that world never really existed. It was only a fantasy. The world has never been safe and we would do well to remember that.
The world has changed forever, but not for the first time. Every event changes the world in some way, in proportion with the significance of the event. The American Revolution changed the world; the attack on Pearl Harbor changed the world; the assassination of President Kennedy changed the world; Watergate changed the world. Even people can change but positive changes rarely just happen. Positive change requires a concious effort. This is why, although things change, too many things always stay the same.
The world will change again. One day, maybe this year, maybe in a hundred years, there will be another world changing event, something worse than we have ever experienced before. Once again, for a day or two, we will be shocked and outraged and wonder how we can possibly carry on. But just like this time we will stiffen our backs, wave flags, roll up our sleeves and carry on. That’s the American way.
First Words of Determination
Probably not actually the first, but this soul stirring essay by Leonard Pitts, which first appeared in the Miami Herald on Wednesday, September 12, 2001 is a classic worth saving and re-reading.
Tuesday, September 10, 2002
From The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien:
"I wish it need not have happened in my lifetime," said Frodo.
Time for a Bit of Frivolity
I wasn't going to get involved in the Sexism in the Blogoshpere debate but I decided it might be a good chance for me to lighten up a bit. (not much, just a little bit) As far as I am aware, Dawn started it, N.Z. Bear responded (and again, and again) and several others have chimed in. Meryl has a round up of the participants so far.
Well, if using the word "frivolity" in the title didn't get anyone pissed off at me the rest of this post surely will. I think the whole thing is silly. Bloggers, big or small, male or female, link to other blogs that they are interested in. Why not? If few of them are women then apparently women aren't writing stuff most bloggers are interested in. Most of the blogs I link to are by men. Most of the bloggers who link to me are men also. It seems to me that to say linking is based on sex is sexist in itself.
I'll be honest, (prepare to be pissed off some more) most women bore the crap out of me. In ordinary face to face conversation men are almost always better conversationalists. Women hardly ever talk about anything; they just babble, jumping from one topic to another without ever really discussing anything. On message boards, amoung the regular participants it is usually the women who derail serious discussions with bickering and unrelated trivia. In the blogoshpere there are many very nice blogs by women but most of them are either primarily personal diaries or, like mine, about a variety of topics with little or no consistency. It is understandable that we get fewer links than more serious bloggers.
My heroine amoung female bloggers is Andrea Harris and frankly she writes more like a man than most female bloggers. She's consistent, she writes well and she has a distinctive style. She can write a good rant without coming off sounding simply bitchy.
That's not to say that we should change. Blogging is about doing your own thing. The big guys are all warbloggers. When there are non-warbloggers - bloggers who write about families, kids, lovers, home life, pet peeves and just general stuff - who get as many hits as Andrew Sullivan then the warbloggers won't be getting all the links. I know it's a catch-22 situation - how can you get as many hits as Andrew Sullivan if no one will link to you? Well, don't ask me...I'm just a woman and I only get 80-90 hits on a good day.
More on "Getting Over It"
Joie has some more words for people who think we should all just shut up about September 11. (No permalink. See Monday, Sept. 9)
Update (9/10 12:31pm): N.Z. Bear has not been involved in this little tiff but this post of his says it best. Bravos to the Bear!
Getting Over It
Last night I was disturbed and angry at a couple of insensitive bloggers and was planning to get up this morning and do some serious orifice ripping but you know what....screw 'em. I'm not alone.
It's not so much that I think a year is too soon to be "over it." Everyone's different, right? What really bothers me is the unsympathetic attitude of a few people - the attitude that because they are over it everyone else should be too, or at least should act like they are, and the attitude that public expressions of emotion are somehow undignified. If you're over it good for you but don't act like that makes you superior, or that holding it in is more dignified.
And don't hand me that bullsh** about showing too much emotion sending a message to the terrorists that they have won. That line has been used way way too much, so much that you might as well just say what you really mean: if you don't agree with me the terrorists have won. Additionally, don't tell me that I don't get it. That has got to be the lamest argument ever invented. You think if people disagree with you it has to mean that they don't get it? How arrorgant! Why can't you just accept that it's possible for someone to understand you perfectly and still disagree with you.?
So what about me? How am I doing? In one sense, I have been "over it" for months. At least I'm living my life and not letting September 11 control everything I do, every decision I make. But it's always there, like a shadow over everything, and when I read certain things some of the rage re-surfaces, so of course, since everyone has been writing about it and talking about it more lately it has been surfacing more often. I wonder if maybe that is the real problem the "get over it" group has with the commemoration. Maybe they're not really as over it as they would like to be. They want to be cool about it but all these nasty emotions keep getting in the way.
Well now, perhaps I should change that first line. Would you call that "orifice ripping?" Nah...I could have done much better if I had written this last night when I was really steamed. Anyway, like I said...screw 'em.
Monday, September 09, 2002
I found Freedom Lives via N.Z. Bear's comments. The first post I saw there is on a topic that has been on my mind some lately: plans for rebuilding the World Trade Center. The image, captioned Don't Rebuild, Reimagine like most of the proposals I've seen, except for the 6 universally rejected official proposals, is just another variation on the Twin Towers.
Perhaps surprisingly, I find the subject of rebuilding both depressing and worrisome. I do not want to form an image in my mind of what I think the rebuilt site should look like because I know if I do I will end up being disappointed. But there are several points that I do think are important. 1) A significant part of the site should be reserved for a memorial, but not the entire site. 2)The greater portion of the rebuilt site should be a celebration of life, a place that people will want to come to for its own sake. 3)The building or buildings should should stand proudly above the Manhattan skyline and should be architecturally magnificent in their own right, not an attempt to copy the Twin Towers but to create a new and unique work of art.
Whatever is finally built I am anxious for the decision to be made. I am prepared to be disappointed but I dread years of controversy over the site. No matter what is built a lot of people are going to be dissatisfied. Some people want nothing but a memorial and others want to rebuild the Twin Towers. I doubt that either way would be emotionally healthy. The first is morbid and the second seems like a form of denial.
I am not an architect and I don't have any clear ideas of what might be appropriate but I will say that I am exceedingly tired of every new public building being nothing but another variation on the glass box - square boxes, rectangular boxes, round boxes, pyramidal boxes, skewed boxes and twisted boxes - they're all still just boxes. How about some architectual detail for a change. In my opinion, the most attractive building in New York is the Chrysler building. No I'm not proposing that it be copied but are there no architects alive who have any imagination for detail? There is a void in downtown Manhattan. Let's fill it with something truly beautiful.
Sunday, September 08, 2002
Mozart Requiem Length
I've noticed several Google searches in my Sitemeter stats lately looking for +Mozart+Requiem+length. Searches like this are most welcome, and I'm happy to provide the information in case anyone else finds their way here looking for the same thing. The recording I have by the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields is just over 50 minutes long.
Antonin Dvorak (1841-1904)
I almost forgot this. Today is the birth anniversary of Czech composer Antonin Dvorak. Of all the great composers Dvorak is widely known as the most "down-to-earth." Unlike many composers who are known for bad temper, insanity, infidelity and a variety of unsavory personal characteristics, Dvorak was a devoted family man and an all around pleasant individual.
Dvorak is a special favorite of mine. Like most people who discover Dvorak, I first got hooked on his 9th Symphony, From the New World and his String Quartet No. 12, commonly known as The American String Quartet. He composed these and several more works while he was artistic director at the National Conservatory in New York and during summers spent summers in a Czech community in Spillville Iowa in the early 1890's.
Of his nine symphonies my favorites are the 9th, 8th and the 6th. I'm fond of his Slavonic Dances, especially No. 6 and No. 7, in both the orchestrated version and the original, and rarely heard, four-hand piano version. The last two piano trios, several of the later String Quartets, the quintets and the Serenade for Strings are all on my favorites list.
My overall favorites of all Dvorak's music are his Stabat Mater and his Requiem. The Stabat Mater is the longest of the several hundred known settings of the Stabat Mater at about 80 - 90 minutes depending on the recording. Dvorak lost two young children while he was composing his Stabat Mater, a fact which may account for the very emotional nature of the composition. Dvorak's Requiem, even longer than the Stabat Mater, is less wildly emotional, more somber and reverent.