Sunday, January 20, 2008

too soon to count down?

I know it’s too early to celebrate - but how about to count down?

I’m not doing the snoopy dance. Not yet. I’m only envisioning myself doing the snoopy dance one year from today when the secret service escorts his lame ass* out of the white house forever. Can you see it? I can – and sometimes that image makes me smile.

*you know who I mean - the MADD magazine poster-boy.

Saturday, January 19, 2008


Some of you may have noticed that the primary season has begun. It makes me go to extremes – either I am hooked to debates, repulsed by the bald-faced lies, or extremely disillusioned with the whole stinking process.

Among all the tidbits and tangential stories I’ve heard, the thing I'm most struck by – so far – is what a bunch of cowering mice so many Americans have become. Today, NPR ran this story on how residents of Lancaster County, South Carolina, are coping with the close of their largest employer. I was disheartened to hear how they responded to being fired with a couple of days notice (their former employer presently dismantled the machinery to ship off to Brazil). They sat back and took it. Many made references to a higher power and to faith. God, I guess, wants them to be unemployed? Admittedly, they have few options (although conflagration of the remaining distribution warehouse jumps to mind). But the option they chose lets the company off the hook and chalks this up to “no one’s fault.”

They're not alone. I’m also reading Ehrenreich on white-collar unemployment/underemployment (somewhere around 15% of the workforce) and she observes the same thing. People are so desperate to find a new job that they don’t care about the business (and economic and social) trends that got them there. What I want to know is what happened to their courage, their indignity? Why is there no roar of opposition? Did it dissipate along with post-war consumerism? Is the fact that we have no concerted counter to these trends due to three generations of (relatively) strong employment? Is this because of FDR? Did the New Deal – and aftermath – make us think that a strong executive wheeling the power of *GOVERNMENT* would protect us? What happened to these people? I don't (can't) believe they've always been like this.

(On a lighter note, view this ad for "new Bush coins.")

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


I am in the middle of performing surgery. Operating on this patient is particularly agonizing because I created it from nothing. It began as an endlessly blank expanse on my computer screen. Over the past 24 months, I have given it shape and substance. Five months ago, it spoke for the first time.* I was reaching contentment with my creation. But surgeons with more skill than me pointed out ways to improve the circulation, the modus operandi, and, most important, the fecundity of my creature. So, with a cautious hand, I cut.

This surgery is a very delicate procedure involving the removal of a small (yet significant) part of the major contribution from the lower extremities and stitching it into the upper extremities - among the methodology and state-of-the-field - where there is, as of yet, no place for it. The challenges involved in this procedure is creating an opening big enough to fit in major contribution without disrupting the other major organs. Moreover, removing major contribution will leave a not insignificant gap - one that may impair necessary movement in the lower extremities. I'm planning to fill it with amended contribution. That will flow just as nicely into the concluding significance as major contribution did and allow my patient to engage in its former activities once again. And while no sign of the major surgery will be visible, I am, as of yet, uncertain if this altered creation will bear fruit. Keep your fingers crossed!

*Fortunately, it hasn't taken on a life of its own.

Monday, January 7, 2008

new is old

I realized last week that I don't really like the new year. Something about the supposed "end" of the year seems too final to me. I wasn't ready for it to end. I have a mental list of things I wanted to do and the end of the year gives me the impression that the chance to do them has passed.

I also realized that I'm not looking forward to this year. I have this one, always-present goal (to finish the D) and that won't happen this year. My big plan - to finish by June '09 - seems like a reasonable amount of time for working this out, but the prospect of a full year of writing with no big huzzah during that time is a little discouraging. I need to devise a system of small rewards. Hummm.

I have to admit that returning to the unrelenting grind is difficult. (It relented while S was out of school; she returned today.) What I really want to do is lounge around and watch my new movie -
Goonies! Fortunately, I pick up some new tea at TJ's and it packs a punch. So, Irish breakfast will lead me back to my computer and may even inspire the narrative turn that will win me a pat on the head from my department. Ugh. No wonder I lack motivation.

I'll leave you with this gem from Lewis Lapham introducing his editorial (in the Jan '08 issue of Harper's) - one I highly recommend reading:
"For politicians not only represent us.... They are, as a group, the hardest working professionals; they must continuously learn new masses of facts, make judgements, give help, and continue to please. It is this obligation, of course, that makes them look unprincipled. To please and do another's will is prostitution, but it remains the nub of the representative system." - Jaques Barzun

Enjoy the show!