Wednesday 23 March 05
SHOUTING AT THE STORM...
Headspace-On my stereo: Full Moon Fever by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers; In my backpack: The End Of Faith: Religion, Terror And The Future Of Reason by Sam Harris; On my nightstand: Autumn Bridge by Takashyi Matsuoka; On my computer: The Blue Blanket by Sue Ellen Thompson; On my screen: Jersey Girl (**) written and directed by Kevin Smith.
There is a scene in The Benny Goodman Story (I believe) where Goodman's big band is playing at a club and the people stop dancing so that they can really listen to the music. There is a point where music ceases to be entertainment and becomes a transcendental experience. I imagine that the first audience that heard Beethoven's 9th felt that.
I like to think that the best of all music has that potential. There is a short list of pieces that I've grown up with that have that power for me. I can't begin to count the number of times I sat in the dark listening to Cat Steven's Sitting from Catch Bull At Four. Those three minutes and eleven seconds of bliss and introspection helped to shape me.
I'm listening to another song this morning that has had a similar effect: Tom Petty's I Won't Back Down from the Full Moon Fever album (how much longer will that word remain in use I sometimes wonder).
Johnny Cash did a masterful cover of the song on his America III: The Solitary Man album and I often play the two versions back-to-back. What Petty and Cash did was turn into music, into enlightenment, a credo from one of my personal heroes: Admiral Hyman G. Rickover: Good ideas are not adopted automatically. They must be driven into practice with courageous impatience.
Sometimes we need to sit and sometimes we need to stand.
Well I won't back down, no I won't back down
you could stand me up at the gates of hell
but I won't back down
Gonna stand my ground, won't be turned around
and I'll keep this world from draggin' me down
gonna stand my ground and I won't back down
Hey baby, there ain't no easy way out
hey I will stand my ground
and I won't back down
Well I know what's right, I got just one life
in a world that keeps on pushin' me around
but I'll stand my ground and I won't back down
Hey baby there ain't no easy way out
hey I will stand my ground
and I won't back down
No, I won't back down
My words, my art, wants to be worthy of such obstinacy.
To comment, see below. For longer musing, try our symposium.
Tuesday 22 March 05
YEAH, HOW COME...?
Headspace-On my stereo: The Cream Of Clapton by Eric Clapton; In my backpack: The End Of Faith: Religion, Terror And The Future Of Reason by Sam Harris; On my nightstand: Autumn Bridge by Takashyi Matsuoka; On my computer: Landscape by Mary Oliver; On my screen: Jersey Girl (**) written and directed by Kevin Smith.
Scott Stantis' Prickly City.
To comment, see below. For longer musing, try our symposium.
Monday 21 March 05
WHO'S PAYING FOR TERRI SCHVIAO...?
Headspace-On my stereo: Indigo Girls by the Indigo Girls; In my backpack: The End Of Faith: Religion, Terror And The Future Of Reason by Sam Harris; On my nightstand: Autumn Bridge by Takashyi Matsuoka; On my computer: Boarding a Bus by Steven Huff; On my screen: Jersey Girl (**) written and directed by Kevin Smith.
OK. I'm about to be a cold-hearted bastard. Nowhere have I seen who's paying what has to be the several-thousand-dollars-a-day hospital bill for keeping the physical body of Terri Schiavo functioning. And I want to know. The reason I want to know is that despite all of the anguish by those who love her, the insertion of state and federal authority in the case is driven by money.
I say this because of the case of Sun Hudson. According to The Dallas Morning News in Hospital Ends Life Support Of Baby by Bruce Nichols:
In what medical ethicists say is a first in the United States, a hospital acting under state law, with the concurrence of a judge, disconnected a critically ill baby from life support Tuesday over his mother's objections.
The baby, Sun Hudson, who'd been on a mechanical ventilator since his birth Sept. 25, died quickly afterward, his mother said.
"I held him ... I talked to him. I told him I love him," said the child's mother, Wanda Hudson. Then doctors took the mechanical breathing tube out, the child took a couple of breaths, struggled briefly in her arms and it was over, Ms. Hudson said.
In explaining the hospital's decision, Nichols writes:
The hospital acted under a Texas law passed in 1999 that allows attending physicians, in consultation with a hospital bioethics committee, to discontinue life support when a patient's condition is hopeless. The law gives a parent or guardian 10 days to find another hospital or institution. After that, the hospital is free to act.
For anyone who might be mathematically or historically impaired George W. Bush was governor of Texas and signed the Texas bill into law that allowed the breathing tube to be pulled. The law allows the family in such cases 10 days to find an alternative hospital or care facility before life support is withdrawn.
Wanda Hudson couldn't find anyone willing to keep her baby alive. Nichols does not say what health insurance the unemployed dental assistant had. And there are other factors in the case that make it far from black and white.
But the obvious question is where were the congressional and white house voices calling out for Sun Hudson?
I cannot comment on the decisions of Terri Schiavo's parents and husband. I'm not in their shoes and I can't begin to imagine the pain they feel.
I can, and feel compelled to comment on the actions of elected officials. I find them shallow, deplorable and self-serving. And why is no one asking if the money being spent on keeping Schiavo's body functioning might be better spent on others who will be allowed to die because they lack the funds necessary to keep them alive?
PZ Meyers offered what I think is the best assessment of the case when he criticizes both sides. In Schiavo, Meyers writes:
I disagree that she must be allowed to die. She doesn't care anymore, and whether there was a living will or request to be allowed to die simply doesn't matter. Just as there is nobody there to preserve, there is nobody there to protect from the right-wing ghouls who want to preserve her mind-free still-warm corpse.
In a Schiavo Reconsidered, however, Meyers offers some additional thought, links to other commentators and a brain scan from Schiavo. He holds to his original position that there is no Schiavo there to protect either way, but the wishes of her husband of 15 years must hold some weight.
I'm more likely to be swayed by arguments about compassion for the living than about rights or respect for the dead. It's clear that her husband has made great sacrifices to carry out those wishes (not the least the way he is standing up to the outrageous vilification of the right), and he has the valid legal rights in this case.
If someday I were to be a mindless hulk, I would want my wife to be able to do what she felt was best. And damn any superstitious ninnies who get in the way of allowing her to find peace and closure and dignity because they think my idling quasi-corpse needed salvation.
I think that is right. The chain of authority for what happens to our bodies should be ourselves first, our spouses second, our parents third, our children fourth, and then, and only then, the State.
I see this as just one more example of how the Republican Party is really the party of intrusive Big Government, something I oppose.To comment, see below. For longer musing, try our symposium.
WHEN THEY COME FOR THE POETS...
Headspace-On my stereo: Ten Year Night by Lucy Kaplansky; In my backpack: The End Of Faith: Religion, Terror And The Future Of Reason by Sam Harris; On my nightstand: Autumn Bridge by Takashyi Matsuoka; On my computer: Boarding a Bus by Steven Huff; On my screen: Jersey Girl (**) written and directed by Kevin Smith.
If you mention poetry to the vast majority of Americans their eyes will glaze over. But people who understand the way things work know that there is power in poetry. In his collection The Muse Is Always Half-Dressed In New Orleans, Andrei Codrescu writes about how the communist government of his native Romania was careful to maintain control of his fellow poets. American thinkers are not far behind.
Poet Sherry Chandler notes in Terroristic Poetry that one of my favorite poets and writers, Alicia Ostriker, has been put on the enemies list.
In the United States, poets and poetry have been marginalized, characterized as a small group of academics and theorists mostly talking to one another. Poetry in the United States rather famously “makes nothing happen.” Or, as was implied by some when Sam Hamill boycotted Laura Bush’s symposium in protest of pre-emptive war, it should be content in its ghetto, that higher realm called art, and should deliver that spiritual news men die miserably everyday for lack of.
When they come for the poets you know the opponents of freedom and liberty are getting serious.To comment, see below. For longer musing, try our symposium.
PLAYING CATCH UP...
Headspace-On my stereo: A Quiet Normal Life by Warren Zevon; In my backpack: The End Of Faith: Religion, Terror And The Future Of Reason by Sam Harris; On my nightstand: Autumn Bridge by Takashyi Matsuoka; On my computer: Boarding a Bus by Steven Huff; On my screen: Jersey Girl (**) written and directed by Kevin Smith.
Several of you have noted my sporadic postings while I was in Louisville. Part of the reason was that I was down with a cold Wednesday and Thursday. The other part is that I was having way too much fun writing and sharing with friends while I was at the retreat. Over the next couple of days I'll fill in the blanks with the rest of the coffee house pieces and an announcement of my picks for the best of the bunch so be sure to scroll back over the week (if you are so inclined) to get the whole picture.
Thank you for your patience.To comment, see below. For longer musing, try our symposium.
Sunday 20 March 05
HOME AGAIN, HOME AGAIN...
Headspace-On my stereo: The British And Irish Hour On WCPN, 90.3; In my backpack: The End Of Faith: Religion, Terror And The Future Of Reason by Sam Harris; On my nightstand: Autumn Bridge by Takashyi Matsuoka; On my computer: 6 by Hayden Carruth; On my screen: Jersey Girl (**) written and directed by Kevin Smith.
I'm back home safely and wouldn't you know, when I got to just south of Strongsville on I-71 the drizzle that had been falling for most of the trip turned to snow. That was the line where the snow had stopped last Sunday as I was driving south. None of it is sticking, thankfully, but you'd think that we'd be past the lion part of the month and be getting some of that lamb.
Only two phone messages were waiting for me—that's a good thing: one from the library to let me know that Jeremy Rifkin's The European Dream (Another Rif From Rifkin..., Sunday, 20 February) is in for me; and the other from the mother of one of my students asking to reschedule a tutoring session tomorrow.
I made the six-hour drive up from Louisville with only one stop at a rest area south of Columbus. I always come away from the annual Green River Writers' Novels-In-Progress Workshop with good feelings from being part of a writers' community and if nothing else occurred, that would be wonderful.
So what happened yesterday was gravy. Two agents: Scott Hoffman and Jim McCarthy (he should update his photo, I'd never recognize him from the one on the website) asked to see my psycho-sexual thriller: Cold Silence. Hoffman wants the complete manuscript and McCarthy asked to see the first 50 pages. Nobody has written any checks yet, but it's always good to know that someone doesn't think you should get a job delivering pizzas. The way the day started, I was fortunate that I sat down to talk with these two.
I, and two other writers, took Rachel Vater to lunch at Browning's Brewery at Louisville's Slugger Field, home of the Cincinnati Red's triple-A farm team, the Louisville Bats. In the past I've done well at these lunches, but this year I was way off. It might have been the cold, but I just couldn't seem to make an impression. The other two writers did a much better job of presenting themselves than I did.
Coming back from lunch I felt like I had done so badly that I was sorely tempted to go take a long nap: like for the rest of the weekend. But I'd paid good money for the chance to talk to agents (the fees go to pay their travel expenses, etc.) and I had to get my money's worth.
Next up was Jack Byrne. Byrne is a long-time veteran in the industry and was the representative for one of my writing heroes, Andre Norton, who passed away last Thursday, 17 March, at 93.
I offered Byrne my condolences on his loss and he told me that she had left instructions that he was to receive the pen that she wrote with. There were memories of tears in Byrne's eyes as he told me the story. But the moment passed quickly and he shifted gears with a "tell me your book."
Like a rank amateur I started to tell him where the story of Cold Silence had come from. Fortunately he stopped me and I said, "I know. Tell you what the story is about, not where it came from." And I tried, but I just couldn't find the rhythm. Byrne ended up saying some nice things about the manuscript and making very cogent suggestions and he ended with an offer of reading a query from me if I made the changes he had suggested. Not a bad meeting, but not the kind of impression I like to make.
Then it was off to talk to McCarthy. I don't know why, but I seemed to find a second wind and sat down to dive right into the pitch as I had written and practiced it. He asked a handful of on-target questions and within five minutes had handed me his card and asked for the first 50 pages. I thanked him and got in line to talk with Hoffman.
It was the perfect way to end the day. Hoffman remembered me from the previous year and his energy was infectious. I gave the pitch again and he liked the twist in the novel. He wanted to know where the idea came from and I gave him the genesis of the story. He handed over his card and told me to box of the manuscript and send it to him.
My goal is to have it in the mail so that it's on his desk first thing a week from tomorrow. It should go in the mail on Thursday.
What a way to try and make a living. I must be crazy. The gods must be crazy. Or maybe just the World is crazy.To comment, see below. For longer musing, try our symposium.
Thursday 17 March 05
YES, IT'S PRONOUNCED HI NEE...
Headspace-On my stereo: Shaman by Santana; In my backpack: The End Of Faith: Religion, Terror And The Future Of Reason by Sam Harris; On my nightstand: Autumn Bridge by Takashyi Matsuoka; On my computer: Ireland by John Hewitt; On my screen: Jersey Girl (**) written and directed by Kevin Smith.
And now back to our regularly scheduled program—Louisville: The Coffee House Tour continues. As noted above, this morning I'm at Heine Brothers' Coffee on Bardstown Road. This is the only coffee house in Louisville that I have visited before. In fact, I've been here a number of times because Heine Brothers' occupies the back half of Carmichael's Bookstore. This was the first time, in fact, in which I didn't browse the shelves and walk back out with half a dozen books in my backpack. I really am trying to be good about not buying more books until I've read those I already own.
But back to coffee. Heine Brothers' is even more counter-culture than either Highland Coffee (Highland Times..., Monday, 14 March) or Day's Espresso and Coffee (Hump Day At Day's.... It's close, but the bookstore connection that puts Heine at the top of the Bardstown heap when it comes to that certain coffee house ambiance.
I also like the patio area at Heine Brothers' more than I did the outdoor seating at Day's (two tables on the sidewalk) or Highland (nice tables in a fenced area accessible from the inside of the coffee house). Again, it's close, but it's the little things that make the difference.
The clientele at Heine Brothers', however, was not as vibrant or interesting as that at Highland (the best crowd of any coffee house I visited) or Day's. You get the sense that most people who come to Heine Brother's take their coffee and go. Or, perhaps, they're all hiding in Carmichael's? It could be.
To comment, see below. For longer musing, try our symposium.
THE TORTURE CONTINUES...
Headspace-On my stereo: Living With Her Hair On Fire by Kimberli Ransom; In my backpack: The End Of Faith: Religion, Terror And The Future Of Reason by Sam Harris; On my nightstand: Autumn Bridge by Takashyi Matsuoka; On my computer: Ireland by John Hewitt; On my screen: Jersey Girl (**) written and directed by Kevin Smith.
Louisville: The Coffee House Tour continues—this entry is coming from the original Heine Brothers' Coffee on Bardstown Road—but I have to take a brief timeout to note Andrew Sullivan's good works on keeping the continuing revelations about the use of torture in Iraq in front of the public eye.
Writes Andrew this morning:
Anyone who has read even the white-wash reports, like the Church report, knows that what happened at Abu Ghraib was torture under any definition. Anyone who reads the NYT this morning will note that only one [emphasis mine, JH] of the murders took place at Abu Ghraib. This was systemic mistreatment of detainees. It still is. And this doesn't even deal with the CIA, which has been given carte blanche to torture or kidnap anyone it suspects of terrorism, even if innocent, or to send them to Syria, Egypt or Saudi Arabia to get hung from hooks in the ceiling.
It is wrong to charge, convict and sentence the soldiers in the field and not connect the crimes to their source: those who conceive and propagate policy.To comment, see below. For longer musing, try our symposium.
Wednesday 16 March 05
WHAT I DON'T KNOW...
Headspace-On my stereo: The Very Best Of John Coltrane by John Coltrane; In my backpack: The End Of Faith: Religion, Terror And The Future Of Reason by Sam Harris; On my nightstand: Autumn Bridge by Takashyi Matsuoka; On my computer: N, in absentia by Robyn Sarah; On my screen: Jersey Girl (**) written and directed by Kevin Smith.
Tonight we amassed a mighty force of writers to hear one of our own take the stage at Louisville's Jazz Factory. The evening, billed as Jazz & The Spoken Word was hosted by Dianne Aprile who teaches in Spalding University's Master of Fine Arts in Writing program and is co-proprietor of the Jazz Factory. The poets were backed up by two excellent musicians: Jacob Duncan on saxophone, clarinet and flute; and Brian Vinson on stand-up bass.
Ten poets, in addition to Aprile who closed the evening, read from both published and unpublished works. Three stood out as particularly powerful.
The first poet up was Aletha Fields. There are writing poets and there are speaking poets and there are those, like Fields, who command both skills. She instantly had the audience entranced and following her every words as she wove poems both steamy and jubilant.
Green River Writers' own Sherry Chandler was third on the evenings bill. By the end of this poem the audience was fanning itself and I felt like dumping my glass of ice water over my head. Here's the opening stanzas. After this, Sherry says, it starts getting pretty obvious (boy, does it ever).
My Comfort Poem
Suppose I were to take this chocolate
this chocolate melting in this saucepan
a primal thing, alive,
this chocolate melting smooth like lava
liquid and solid all at once
such satisfying folds and ridges in this pan as it melts…
Suppose I were to take this chocolate
that melts so sweet and smooth on the back of the tongue
first a lump, then a paste, then a soothing
glide down the palate…
Finishing up the first of two sets was Paul McDonald. Two of the poems he read were Je Ne Sais Pas and More Information Than You Need. I got lost in the rhythm of Je Ne Sais Pas which begins:
I don't know who I am
I don't know what I want
I don't know why I'm here
I don't know who got here first
I don't know what it all has to do with me
I don't know why I don,t make my bed
I don't know why I keep losing my socks
I don't know why my mom keeps calling me
I don't know why I keep rolling that damn rock up the hill...
The poem came, McDonald told the audience, from a decision to just write down everything he didn't know one day in his journal. There is a strong connection between McDonald and the Beats. His voice and material and delivery were made for a smoke filled coffeehouse where patrons snapped their fingers in approval.GreeTo comment, see below. For longer musing, try our symposium.
Headspace-On my stereo: What A Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong at Coffee Treat; In my backpack: The End Of Faith: Religion, Terror And The Future Of Reason by Sam Harris; On my nightstand: Autumn Bridge by Takashyi Matsuoka; On my computer: N, in absentia by Robyn Sarah; On my screen: Jersey Girl (**) written and directed by Kevin Smith.
That only one block separates Coffee Treat Cafe from The Java Brewing Company is amazing. Java is at 4th and Muhammad Ali. Go one block west to 5th and you're at the door of Coffee Treat. Across the street from both is Louisville's landmark Seelbach Hilton with its storied history.
Yet, when I stopped in during the middle of the afternoon, the cafe was empty. I have a strong suspicion that Coffee Treat is newly opened, although I can't say for certain. A google of the name only turned up a few hits and all of them very recent.
I was drawn there by a stack of menus left in the dorm lobby where the Novels In Progress Workshop was taking place. All I had to do was see the words coconut cake and I was hooked.
When I was very young I would sneak handfuls of coconut from the bags of Baker's that my grandmother kept for baking. Today my favorite Cleveland pastry are coconut bars. I suppose I could even be enticed into eating my dad's favorite meal—liver and onions with brussels sprouts—if you could figure out a way of smothering it in coconut.
The piece or cake I had with my espresso was a bit of heaven. Listening to Louis Armstrong at the same time was bliss.
And when I asked for a glass of ice water the owner, Asna Yesus, gave me not just a glass, but a small pitcher of ice water to go with it. I do hope that the traffic picks up real soon. She deserves it.To comment, see below. For longer musing, try our symposium.
HUMP DAY AT DAY'S...
Headspace-On my stereo: Satellite Radio's Irish Music In Preparation For St. Patrick's Day At Day's Espresso And Coffee on Bardstown Road; In my backpack: The End Of Faith: Religion, Terror And The Future Of Reason by Sam Harris; On my nightstand: Autumn Bridge by Takashyi Matsuoka; On my computer: To N, in absentia by Robyn Sarah; On my screen: Jersey Girl (**) written and directed by Kevin Smith.
Day's Espresso and Coffee on Bardstown Road starts day three of Louisville: The Coffee House Tour. So far three bloggers have picked up the tour, so a quad espresso shout goes out to John Pike at Pike Speaks, George Nemeth at Brewed Fresh Daily and Sherry Chandler (with whom I'll be having lunch in a few hours and then going to hear read her poetry at the Jazz Factory this evening) at Sherry Chandler.
Day's is a local chain that reminds me very much of Cleveland's Arabica at its best. This location is two storefronts down from Sweet Surrender—a dangerous looking confectionary with the posted warning: do not lick the glass. The store fronts are joined inside so you don't need to walk out into the weather to gain a pound or two just inhaling.
I like the way Day's mixes tables with high-top bar space. There is a plaque on the serving counter that reads: Bar Designed & Created By Daniel C. Vittitoe. The way the high-tops fit into the windows is particularly inviting.
In one corner of the shop are, I presume, reproductions of Day family photos going back to the old country; and one modern photo showing what looks to be Mr. and Mrs. Day with their five (three sons and two daughters) grown children.
I think that is what really strikes me about Day's: it feels like family.To comment, see below. For longer musing, try our symposium.
Tuesday 15 March 05
STUNTING YOUR GROWTH SINCE 2003...
Headspace-On my stereo: Satellite Radio's Classic Rock at the Old Louisville Coffeehouse; In my backpack: The End Of Faith: Religion, Terror And The Future Of Reason by Sam Harris; On my nightstand: Autumn Bridge by Takashyi Matsuoka; On my computer: Tuition Costs by Victor Depta; On my screen: Jersey Girl (**) written and directed by Kevin Smith.
Day two of Louisville: The Coffee House Tour continues with an accidental find. While looking for a suitable icon to use with Emin's, I came across a photo of the Old Louisville Coffeehouse (left) by Googling louisiville and coffee. A quick search via Suicide Girl Holly who's going to be here next week, the 24th, with a band, I discovered that it was very much in business. The coffee house was not listed as a hot spot in the Louisville guide, but it does have free wifi.
Located at the corner of Hill and 4th, the Coffeehouse has a distinct college feel with furniture that ranges from modern overstuffed chairs and couches to round-top tables and very ornate spindle chairs with carved backs.
The Old Louisville area is billed as America's largest Victorian neighborhood. Walking south from the Spalding campus was very slow going because of the hundreds of fascinating architectural details—like terra-cotta tiles around balconies and windows—that necessitated lots of stops.
Owner Ken Hundertmark serves IntelligentsiA Coffee and puts his espresso in shot glasses (see photo above) that is very fitting in the land of Bourbon and Kentucky whiskey.
Hundertmark has hung the paintings of Lynn Nackson on the walls of his coffee house. Nackson's artist's statement reads:
I am disabled with a bipolar disorder, diagnosed when I was seventeen. I am now fifty-five. Now, instead of putting disabled as my employment on my official forms, I can put artist.
I developed as an artist through art therapy. There I learned to express my feelings through composition, technique and color. It has been a way of putting on canvas both the darkness and the light of my life.
Those of us who suffer from mental illness can make a contribution to the community. The roles of the mentally ill need to be redefined. We are not our illness. We are people struggling with a medical condition.
If I have one goal, it is to help in some small way to break the stigma of mental illness. I want to show we can set goals and have the courage and determination to meet them.
This show is dedicated to those, like me, who struggle with their emotions and thoughts. We can make a difference. And we will.
I have no doubt.To comment, see below. For longer musing, try our symposium.
PARLES VOUS ESPRESSO...?
Headspace-On my stereo: A Decade Of Hits by the Allman Brothers Band; In my backpack: The End Of Faith: Religion, Terror And The Future Of Reason by Sam Harris; On my nightstand: Autumn Bridge by Takashyi Matsuoka; On my computer: Tuition Costs by Victor Depta; On my screen: Jersey Girl (**) written and directed by Kevin Smith.
Day two of Louisville: The Coffee House Tour begins at Ermin's French Bakery and Cafe in the Heyburn Building on 4th Street near West Broadway. Ermin's is a bakery first and a coffee house 5th or 6th. The only options they have is regular, decaf or cappucino; NO ESPRESSO! I was bummed. I had a regular coffee and a piece of cherry strudel. (I smacked myself in the head later, I should have gotten a croissant to test the French in the name.)
The shop is in the process of adding a mezzanine level that could be interesting but since construction was ongoing I wasn't able to get a look upstairs. The mural to my left in the photo above reminded me a bit of the works of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.To comment, see below. For longer musing, try our symposium.
Monday 14 March 05
Headspace-On my stereo: Satellite Radio's Classic Rock at Highland Coffee; In my backpack: The End Of Faith: Religion, Terror And The Future Of Reason by Sam Harris; On my nightstand: Autumn Bridge by Takashyi Matsuoka; On my computer: Tuition Costs by Victor Depta; On my screen: Jersey Girl (**) written and directed by Kevin Smith.
Stop No. 2 on Louisville: The Coffee House Tour is Highland Coffee on Bardstown Road. Bardstown is the Coventry (the Haight-Ashbury of Cleveland, for you out-of-towners) of Louisville and you could have taken any of the crowd from the original Arabica on Coventry and dropped them into the Highland and they'd never know the difference. One of the things I like is the star motif on some of the tables and on the t-shirts. It reminds me of another of my favorite Cleveland coffee houses: the now-defunct Red Star on the near West Side.
While perusing the over-crowded bulletin board I found a notice for Gothic Belly Dance this Friday night at the Main Street Lounge. Starting the day with Thomas Merton and ending it with Taletha. How's that for balance?To comment, see below. For longer musing, try our symposium.
Headspace-On my stereo: Satellite Radio's Blue Grass at the Java Brewing Company; In my backpack: The End Of Faith: Religion, Terror And The Future Of Reason by Sam Harris; On my nightstand: Autumn Bridge by Takashyi Matsuoka; On my computer: Tuition Costs by Victor Depta; On my screen: Jersey Girl (**) written and directed by Kevin Smith.
The first stop on my Louisville: The Coffee House Tour is the Java Brewery Company at the corner of Muhammad Ali Boulevard and 4th Street. The tables are all high tops facing the street which makes for fantastic people watching. The topic of the tour came up with one of the baristas and as we shifted to writing and writes he mentioned that he thought there should be a Hunter S. Thompson brew in honor of one of Louisville's favorite sons. He said it would have to be really, really strong. And brewed with ether, I added.
What drew me to the corner where the coffee house is, was a historical marker that told walkers:
A Revelation. Thomas Merton (1915-68) had a sudden insight at this corner Mar. 18, 1958, that led him to redefine his monastic identity with greater involvement in social justice issues. He was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all these people... He found them walking around shining like the sun. Conjectures Of A Bystander.
This was the view of the other side of the marker as seen from my seat inside the coffee house.
I can't resist the temptation to return on Friday for the 47th anniversary. Who knows what fun that might be?To comment, see below. For longer musing, try our symposium.
Sunday 13 March 05
A FROSTY ABE...
Headspace-On my stereo: Briefcase Full Of Blues by the Blues Brothers; In my backpack: The End Of Faith: Religion, Terror And The Future Of Reason by Sam Harris; On my nightstand: Autumn Bridge by Takashyi Matsuoka; On my computer: At the Arraignment by Debra Spencer; On my screen: Jersey Girl (**) written and directed by Kevin Smith.
I pulled out of Cleveland Heights this morning at 3:10. The temperature was in the teens and the snow was blowing hard enough to make the unplowed streets hazardous. I was down I-71 past Strongsville en route to Louisville for the 2005 Novels-In-Progress Workshop before I was able to safely accelerate to 65 mph. The Sun came up somewhere between Columbus and Xenia and the sky was a spring-promising blue.
By Cincinnati all hints of the white stuff were gone from the ground and while the trees weren't green, I did see the deep green of crocuses poking through the pale brown grass. I rolled into Louisville at 9:30 a.m. and it felt so good to see only the occasional puff of cloud in the sky. I almost wanted to roll my windows down.
Then it happened. One minute I was inside unpacking and the next moment I'm looking out at snow. Not just pretty little never-hit-the-ground flakes, but fat want-to-break-power-line globules of white crystalline depression. I had felt so smug driving out of Cleveland. Obviously I had offended some obscure pagan god of Lake Erie who had sent her storm of wrath chasing after me as I drove southwest.
Thankfully my offense must have been minor or the good citizens of Louisville too undeserving of excessive misery. By the next morning the Sun was out again and all that remained was a spotty mantle like the one that caped a young Abe Lincoln in front of the Louisville Free Pubic Library.
Next time I'll remember to light a joss stick or two before striking out on the road.To comment, see below. For longer musing, try our symposium.
Saturday 12 March 05
To comment, see below. For longer musing, try our symposium.
Dear Mr. Jeffrey A. Hess, Our records show that you haven't yet registered for the benefits of AARP membership, even though you are fully eligible. For the record, I'm still six months short of 50. ARRGGGHHHH!!!!!
Headspace-On my stereo: Born To Be Wild by Steppenwolf; In my backpack: The End Of Faith: Religion, Terror And The Future Of Reason by Sam Harris; On my nightstand: Autumn Bridge by Takashyi Matsuoka; On my computer: The State of the Economy by Louis Jenkins; On my screen: Jersey Girl (**) written and directed by Kevin Smith.
[Update, 16 March: it seems that the government of Myanmar considers me a subversive and has blocked my page. To possibly get it unblocked, I've altered the former name of the country to read B*u*r*m*a. We'll see if that works. JH]
I seem to have picked up an interested reader in the country of Myanmar (formerly known as B*u*r*m*a) who shows up with 44 hits so far this month. I confess that I'm something of a statistics junky and I check often to see how Have Coffee Will Write is doing. This reader really has me intrigued. I spent some time in Thailand and Singapore back in the late '70s while I was a Gunner's Mate onboard the U.S.S. Bainbridge (CGN 25).
I have fond memories of both countries. I had the opportunity to travel north to the country before it took its present name. I'm sorry I didn't. I hope my Myanmarian reader takes the opportunity to let me know who they are.To comment, see below. For longer musing, try our symposium.
I and all you bloggers are doing nothing more than feeding the public's insatiable desire for information, says Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge James P. Kleinberg. So is the National Enquirer afraid? Jeff Jarvis is.
[Update: Dan Gilmore weighs in with Apple's Trade Secret.]To comment, see below. For longer musing, try our symposium.
Headspace-On my stereo: Foreign Affairs by Tom Waits; In my backpack: The End Of Faith: Religion, Terror And The Future Of Reason by Sam Harris; On my nightstand: Autumn Bridge by Takashyi Matsuoka; On my computer: The State of the Economy by Louis Jenkins; On my screen: Jersey Girl (**) written and directed by Kevin Smith.
I'm up early because I'm preparing for a road trip tomorrow and need to do a little time shifting. I decided to use the time to catch up on a few blogs that I'm not able to get to daily and in reading back on Steve Waldman's Accidental Torah Teacher I came across two entries from 17 January: Exterminate Them and Counter Genocide. The gist of Waldman's post is that while attending a Shabbat dinner at the home of an Orthodox Jewish friend he took part in a conversation where a genocide of the Arabs was dropped into a conversation.
This is the snippet of conversation that Waldman reports:
When the service was over, the men gathered in the hallway and began discussing the Mideast conflict. One of the well-dressed professionals whose piety I had so admired moments before gave his solution, You take that wall the Israelis are building around the West Bank and instead you build it around all the Arab nations. Then you take all their oil and pour it on them. And then you light a match. He also suggested dropping a nuclear bomb on Mecca.
A soft-spoken Israeli fellow standing nearby nodded and offered a few Hebrew words, which were translated for me as his approach to dealing with Muslims: Exterminate them.
At first Waldman is angry with himself for not speaking out. Then in the follow-up post he asks:
How could Jews, of all people, advocate the extermination of anyone?
Waldman's question, I think, is illuminating in that it demonstrates why Liberals and Conservatives are often at loggerheads. I'll leave it to one of my Conservative readers to amplify or correct this, but it seems to me that a Conservative would reply: How could they not? And I wouldn't disagree with them.
This is part of the challenge of Sam Harris' The End Of Faith (see End of Reason..., Tuesday, 8 March). How does a religious Liberal (or Moderate) deal with the ultra violence of religious texts? It is possible to explain it away as historical or metaphor. That is disingenuous.
There is a principle of textual study in the Jewish tradition that makes explaining away the hard parts very difficult. The great 20th century Torah scholar Nehama Leibovitz wrote in a commentary on Parashat (Portion) Ki Tetze (Deuteronomy 21:10-25:19):
There are many levels of meaning, but none of the expositions and exegesis read into the text by our Sages override the literal sense—on first reading. This principle was stated by the Sages themselves in their dictum: "The Scripture can never be divorced from its plain meaning". Rashi [Rabbi Shlomo ben Yitzchak, 1040-1105 C.E.] observes on this dictum:
Though the text is expounded in, its homiletic sense it never completely loses its literal significance [emphasis mine, JH].
This is a fundamental principle which should be ever In front of the student of the Torah. The best proof of it is from the text we have studied.
This principle is the cornerstone of the novel I'm currently writing in which a present-day Jew must face the potential for committing a horrendous genocide clearly written as a Mitzvah, Commandment, from God.
Waldman concludes his post by saying that he is left speechless, again. This is the real challenge of Liberals and Moderates as they try to deal with [insert-the-name-of-your-faith]-Lite: to not be left speechless.
There is much to admired and emulated in the texts of all the World's faith systems. But there is also much to be deplored and rejected. We want to hold onto the tradition, but in a Post-Modern World this becomes increasingly difficult if not impossible.
This is something that I constantly wrestle with. Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi is reported to have once described himself as a Jewish practitioner of generic religion. I like that description. I view things spiritual through a Jewish lens and I keep talking. That's important.To comment, see below. For longer musing, try our symposium.
Friday 11 March 05
ALL POLITICS ARE LOCAL POLITICS...
Headspace-On my stereo: Mass In B Minor by Johann Sebastian Bach; In my backpack: The End Of Faith: Religion, Terror And The Future Of Reason by Sam Harris; On my nightstand: Autumn Bridge by Takashyi Matsuoka; On my computer: The Discovery of Sex by Debra Spencer; On my screen: Jersey Girl (**) written and directed by Kevin Smith.
And so is blogging. At least that's the opinion of Michael Crowley. In his Local Yokels for The New Republic Crowley examines how Senator John Thune (R-S.D.) used Republican operatives to help blog former Senate Democratic leader Tom Dachle out of the Senate. One of the bloggers, it turns out was, James Guckert, aka Jeff Gannon.
According to Crowley, Guckert; Jason Van Beek, a University of South Dakota law student paid $8,000 for his work; and Jon Lauck, a South Dakota State University history professor paid $27,000 to blog, all blogged in the cause of Thune.
The target of the blogs, writes Crowley, was the state's flagship newspaper: the Argus Leader; and its veteran political writer: David Kranz.
Here's the money quote—can you say ka CHING, I want to be a corrupted blogger!:
This story is no doubt a sign of things to come. Operatives in both parties are already plotting ways to manipulate the local media in the coming 2006 elections. One GOP campaign operative I spoke to suggests that North Dakota Senator Kent Conrad, who faces reelection this fall, could be vulnerable to a blog offensive.
Conrad is a heavyweight Democrat in a strongly pro-Bush state. "The Fargo Forum shills for the Democrats in North Dakota," the operative says. "Maybe we need another blog experience in North Dakota." The operative also says that The Denver Post and newspapers in Florida could be open to similar treatment. Hildebrand [Daschle's former campaign manager. JH], Steve Hildebrand offers this advice to nascent 2006 campaign teams: "Go find five people who will create blogs on your behalf."
The 2006 elections are only 17 months away and Ohio has key races including those for governor and senator. This could be fun.To comment, see below. For longer musing, try our symposium.
Thursday 10 March 05
YOU DON'T LOVE ME...!
To comment, see below. For longer musing, try our symposium.
In a brilliant piece of satire that plops the Emperor's New Clothes tale on its head, Terry Kanago of I See Invisible People lays bare the thinking of Congress with Does This War Make My Ass Look Big?
SYRIA SI!, UNITED STATES NO...!
Headspace-On my stereo: Further In by Greg Brown; In my backpack: The End Of Faith: Religion, Terror And The Future Of Reason by Sam Harris; On my nightstand: Autumn Bridge by Takashyi Matsuoka; On my computer: Ode to My 1977 Toyota by Barbara Hamby; On my screen: Jersey Girl (**) written and directed by Kevin Smith.
It looked really good there for about five minutes. I enjoyed my brief bask in the light of liberty shining from Lebanon (see: The Switzerland Of The East..., posted Tuesday, 28 February). But, like Tianamen Square, the bloom was just a flash. Half a million pro-Syrian and anti-United States demonstrators took to the streets and now former pro-Syrian Prime Minister Omar Karami is moving back into his office.
CNN reports in Lebanon's Ex-PM Resumes Post this morning that:
Lebanese President Emile Lahoud has reappointed staunchly pro-Syrian Premier Omar Karami to form the next government, 10 days after Karami quit under popular pressure.
The World is a complicated place. To comment, see below. For longer musing, try our symposium.
Wednesday 09 March 05
A NEW ROLDO...?
Headspace-On my stereo: Bitches Brew by Miles Davis; In my backpack: The End Of Faith: Religion, Terror And The Future Of Reason by Sam Harris; On my nightstand: Autumn Bridge by Takashyi Matsuoka; On my computer: Moment of Inertia by Debra Spencer; On my screen: Jersey Girl (**) written and directed by Kevin Smith.
I started reading Bill Callahan's Callahan's Cleveland Diary last month. George Nemeth at Brewed Fresh Daily led me there for a discussion on Wal-Mart and the Steelyard Commons project. I met Bill briefly at the last Cleveland Bloggers Meetup (Dinner Conversations..., Thursday, 17 February), but didn't really get a chance to talk with him. I hope to get to know him better at the April session. (I'm going to miss the March meeting due to a prior commitment.)
Bill has done an excellent job of reporting, analyzing and illuminating the course of negotiations surrounding proposals to put a Wal-Mart (and other big box stores) in the Steelyard Commons area of Cleveland's Flats. In yesterday's entry Bill does something that I've come to associate with Roldo Bartimole—Cleveland's semi-retired crusading journalist: he lays out the numbers in a way that makes plain the lies being told by those sucking up to the public trough.
I remember Roldo doing his best to make Clevelanders understand that the corporate welfare projects like the Brown's Stadium, the Gund Arena and Jacob's Field, were not going to be a great economic boon and create thousands of real jobs. In the end, all three were built and Cleveland remains the poorest large city in the country.
Bill does the same thing in 1,800 Permanent Jobs. The money quote is this:
New retail floor space doesn't create new retail jobs. Higher retail sales, i.e. more consumer spending, is what creates new jobs (sometimes). And since building a mall in the Flats will have no effect on the amount of money Cleveland-area consumers spend—only on where we spend it—it will result in little or no new job creation.
The whole series is well worth reading to see how things don't get done in an economically and politically clueless city.
Over at Cool Cleveland there is a similar report on a retail project that was built and the 80 percent revenue shortfall it has produced. The City of Lyndhurst was promised $2.5 million a year from the pretty boondoggle. It got $500,000 according to a Plain Dealer story. So retail development stupidity isn't limited to big cities.To comment, see below. For longer musing, try our symposium.
Tuesday 08 March 05
THE END OF REASON...
Headspace-On my stereo: The Cream Of Clapton by Eric Clapton; In my backpack: The End Of Faith: Religion, Terror And The Future Of Reason by Sam Harris; On my nightstand: Autumn Bridge by Takashyi Matsuoka; On my computer: Day Bath by Debra Spencer; On my screen: Jersey Girl (**) written and directed by Kevin Smith.
The book I took along with my on the trip to New York was Sam Harris' The End of Faith: Religion, Terror And The Future Of Reason. I ordered the book on the recommendation of my friend John Pike over at Pike Speak. I was so absorbed in the book on the plane that the educational director in the aisle seat leaned over to ask what I was reading so intently. In the first 40 pages I marked six passages to be later copied out into my electronic chapbook. Then I hit page 41 and came to a screeching halt.
What I read was this:
There also seems to be a body of data attesting to the reality of psychic phenomena much of which has been ignored by mainstream science.
That sentence is footnoted and references the following works:
Dean Radin's The Conscious Universe: The Scientific Truth Of Psychic Phenomena; Rupert Sheldrake's The Sense Of Being Stared At: And Other Aspects Of The Extended Mind; R.S. Bobrow's Paranormal Phenomena In The Medical Literature: Sufficient Smoke To Warrant A Search For Fire; and Ian Stevenson's Twenty Cases Suggestive Of Reincarnation; Unlearned Language: New Studies in Xenoglossy; and Where Reincarnation And Biology Intersect.
I confess that I've not read any of these books but among those who have, I'm sure there is a number who believe that these texts are indeed evidence that the paranormal and psychic exist. But not for me.
Here's my most basic reason. If any one could come forward and demonstrate under scientifically rigorous conditions—as demanded to win the $1 million Paranormal Challenge from James Randi—it would revolutionize science. It would change the way we understand the Universe more than did works of Galileo, Copernicus, Newton and Einstein combined. The value of such proof would be worth trillions of dollars. But no one has come even close to winning the paltry $1 million.
I'll keep reading Harris' book, but quiet frankly it will be with a skeptical eye to any evidence he presents.To comment, see below. For longer musing, try our symposium.
DEATH OF A PLACE...
To comment, see below. For longer musing, try our symposium.
Arabica on Lee has changed hands. I was hopeful at first, but my hopes were misplaced. The staff is leaving in mass rather than see what they built go the way of the defunct Coventry Arabica, also managed by the new owner.
Monday 07 March 05
THE PICKLE GUYS...
Headspace-On my stereo: Ain't No 'Bout-A-Doubt It by Graham Central Station; In my backpack: The End Of Faith: Religion, Terror And The Future Of Reason by Sam Harris; On my nightstand: Autumn Bridge by Takashyi Matsuoka; On my computer: Vex Me by Barbara Hamby; On my screen: Jersey Girl (**) written and directed by Kevin Smith.
Every muscle in my body aches and my eyes are more than a little red, but I have a delightful sense of accomplishment having spent the last two days in a whirlwind tour of immigrant New York City with 15 extremely high energy 10th graders. The occasion was the annual confirmation trip from one of the synagogues where I teach. This was my second trip in two weeks. (The first was to the Holocaust Memorial Center in Detroit, see A Century Of Genocide, Sunday, 27 February)
I teach the 9th grade class at the synagogue so I didn't know these students except by sight. It was getting to know them that made my trip the most enjoyable. Adolescents bounce rapidly between being three and 30, with only brief stopovers in the middle, as they workout who they are and who they're going to be. It's a fascinating process to observe if you're not a parent and have to deal with the splatter.
The theme of the trip was Immigrant New York. Like most European immigrant groups of the late 19th and early 20th centuries Jews came to the United States through New York City. We had four focus stops on the trip: Liberty Island and the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, the Lower East Side Tenement Museum and the Eldridge Street synagogue.
All four stops were interesting. The docent at the synagogue and the staff at the museum—which include an actress playing a 14-year-old Sephardic girl who never broke persona—were particularly excellent and the kids were focused and asked penetrating questions during those sessions.
But the stop that brightened up the kids' faces was The Pickle Guys. In an open storefront the kids queued past 30-gallon barrels of pickles (new, 1/2-sour and 3/4-sour, hot-new and hot-sour); pickled tomatoes (plum, cherry and regular); olives, peppers, kraut (sweet and sour); and much more. Gone were the days of "a pickle for a nickel and a joke," but at two-for-a-dollar they were still a bargain. For the rest of the trip every other pickle the kids ate was compared to those from The Pickle Guys; that first nosh stayed in first place.
You have to look hard to find remnants of Jewish immigrants on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Now the western terminus of the Williamsburg Bridge descends into Chinatown. This wasn't something the kids expected. For every sign in Yiddish or Hebrew that you saw there were hundreds in Chinese. Jewish New York was buried under Chinese New York.
It's been about 10 years since I was last in New York and I'm not sure which has changed more, me or it. It didn't seem as crowded or as expensive as it had before. Traffic, even on Monday, wasn't as loud or congested. With the exception of one drunk in the middle of the street on Monday, the indigent and homeless were nowhere to be seen.
Was it a phenomenon of 11 September 01? Perhaps. We made the pilgrimage to the site of the World Trade Center towers. Standing on the southern border of the excavation the rabbi recited a memorial prayer and we all recited Kaddish. I couldn't take my eyes off of a standing pool of water that perfectly reflected the clear, but empty, blue sky.
By late Monday afternoon, after a stop at FAO Schwarz for some fun, free-time, it was back on the bus and north on Madison Avenue—going by Central Park we caught glimpses of Christo's Gates—to Spanish Harlem and then across the East River and back to La Guardia. Amazingly, the kids still had some energy. I was exhausted.
I hope I get invited to chaperone next year's trip.To comment, see below. For longer musing, try our symposium.
Sunday 06 March 05
A BIT OF SERENDIPITY...
Headspace-On my stereo: Ain't No 'Bout-A-Doubt It by Graham Central Station; In my backpack: The End Of Faith: Religion, Terror And The Future Of Reason by Sam Harris; On my nightstand: Autumn Bridge by Takashyi Matsuoka; On my computer: Ham and Cheese on Rye by Gary Busha; On my screen: Jersey Girl (**) written and directed by Kevin Smith.
Being up way too late and unable to sleep sometimes can be interesting. This morning I gave up trying to fall back asleep and decided to read a little. Yesterday I had read an entry by one of my local favorites, Colette of Dancing on Colette's Grave about a young woman named Ainsley who wrote This I Know How To Do in her blog Promiscuities.
In This Hits Really Close To Home, Colette writes about her concern and morbid curiosity for this young woman embarking on an affair with a much older married man. She says:
I want to see what happens—so sue me *smirk*. Part of it is because,(and some of you might not believe this - those that know me will), I am worried for this young woman. It's none of my business, but I don't want to see her,(or the creep's wife for that matter), get hurt. And they will - we all know that they will.
I too want to see what happens after and I was fortunate enough to glimpse something that I most likely only share with Ainsley. She replied this morning to Colette's entry and posted her comment just as I was logging on. What happened next is a delightful surprise.
After I read her post I thought to add my own reply. When I got to the comment screen, however, I saw that Ainsley had had a change of heart and deleted her comment. Because I still had her original on my screen I cut-and-pasted it to a Word file and went back to writing my comment. But there was a third comment, an edited version of Ainsley's original comment.
The change wasn't monumental, but it was clear that she had had second thoughts about how she had phrased her communication to Colette. There is more heart in the redacted missive. And that is how it should be. If only we could all have the chance to make such alterations in the words we exchange with others.
I just love serendipity.
[Update at 2:08 a.m.: In the process of posting a trackback to Colette's entry I discovered that Ainsley had a second change of heart and essentially deleted her entire comment, of which I have copies of both versions one and two, and replaced it with a much briefer note. Now I'm in the position of the voyeur who witnesses something he might wish to share. So serendipity turns around and bites me in the ass. What to do?]To comment, see below. For longer musing, try our symposium.
Saturday 05 March 05
PULLING THE CORK...
To comment, see below. For longer musing, try our symposium.
Compliments of Garrison Keillor's Writer's Almanac comes this coffee quote from Virginia Hamilton Adair on her source of inspiration: A cup of coffee. Always black, always strong and always just one. It takes the cork out of the bottle.
A KNOCK AT THE DOOR...
Headspace-On my stereo: The Temptations by The Temptations; In my backpack: The End Of Faith: Religion, Terror And The Future Of Reason by Sam Harris; On my nightstand: Autumn Bridge by Takashyi Matsuoka; On my computer: Winter Lambs by Jane Kenyon; On my screen, The Office: Christmas Special (***) directed by Stephen Merchant and written by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant.
[Update: Terry at I see invisible people points to Mouse Words where the suggestion is made that this is all a neo-con ploy to get liberals to assist in defanging the FEC. Dang, I think I'm too cynical for myself sometimes.]
This could be serious. In The Coming Crackdown On Blogging, Declan McCullagh at CNET News.com warns that the Federal Elections Commission is poised to sweep down on bloggers. The reason is that the FEC, says commission-chairman Bradley Smith, is extending the 2002 campaign finance law to the Internet. The core of the issue is whether or not political endorsements or other support by blogs are worthy of the press exemption granted by federal law to broadcasting station, newspaper, magazine or other periodical publication.
If they are not, then a rough and tumble dialogue begins on how do you value a hyperlink? A mention?
Jeff Jarvis at BuzzMachine offers a comprehensive rundown on the issue in FEC Follies.
For me it's coming down to the size of the soapbox. If I stand at the corner of Cedar and Lee Roads near my apartment and speak for an hour, then I'm exercising my First Amendment Right to free speech. If instead, however, I spend that hour here at my desk writing and then publish my opinion in this blog, that may be subject to federal election laws.
McCullagh interviewed Smith and elicited this exchange:
McCullagh: If Congress doesn't change the law, what kind of activities will the FEC have to target?
Smith: We're talking about any decision by an individual to put a link (to a political candidate) on their home page, set up a blog, send out mass e-mails, any kind of activity that can be done on the Internet.
Again, blogging could also get us into issues about online journals and non-online journals. Why should CNET get an exemption but not an informal blog? Why should Salon or Slate get an exemption? Should Nytimes.com and Opinionjournal.com get an exemption but not online sites, just because the newspapers have a print edition as well?
McCullagh: Why wouldn't the news exemption cover bloggers and online media?
Smith: Because the statute refers to periodicals or broadcast, and it's not clear the Internet is either of those. Second, because there's no standard for being a blogger, anyone can claim to be one, and we're back to the deregulated Internet that the judge objected to. Also I think some of my colleagues on the commission would be uncomfortable with that kind of blanket exemption.
McCullagh: So if you're using text that the campaign sends you, and you're reproducing it on your blog or forwarding it to a mailing list, you could be in trouble?
Smith: Yes. In fact, the regulations are very specific that reproducing a campaign's material is a reproduction for purpose of triggering the law. That'll count as an expenditure that counts against campaign finance law.
This is an incredible thicket. If someone else doesn't take action, for instance in Congress, we're running a real possibility of serious Internet regulation. It's going to be bizarre.
Bizarre indeed. I, for one, have contacted my senators and representative. If you're blogging, you should too. To comment, see below. For longer musing, try our symposium.
Friday 04 March 05
MORE SCOTT STANTIS...
To comment, see below. For longer musing, try our symposium.
Theodore Sturgeon once commented that 95 percent of everything is crap. That will be, I'm sure, true of podcasts. In this 5 March cartoon Scott Stantis says it perfectly.
HERDING THE BEAST...
Headspace-On my stereo: Franks Wild Years by Tom Waits; In my backpack: The End Of Faith: Religion, Terror And The Future Of Reason by Sam Harris; On my nightstand: All The Flowers Are Dying by Lawrence Block; On my computer: Writing by Howard Nemerov; On my screen, The Office: Christmas Special (***) directed by Stephen Merchant and written by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant.
Via I See Invisible People I found Will That Be Paper Or Pixels? by publishing agent Richard Curtis on his Backspace blog. What he has to say is not new, but may be indicative of a further awakening of the lethargic creature that is publishing. Curtis, who is also president of his own ePublishing company, E-Reads, has his own agenda, of course, but what he says has merit.
I remember an early conversation with my friend Richard Montanari after his first book Deviant Way came out in the mid '90s. Rick had developed his own website to promote the book, but the promotion folks at his publisher had no clue how to take advantage of it.
Things have gotten better over the past 10 years, but like most behemoths, publishing is slogging along as evidence that Curtis only notices two years ago that publishers were beginning to see the advantages of email and electronic submissions.
At the end of Part III of his Publishing in the 21st Century Curtis notes:
As authors assume the roles traditionally performed by publishers such as distribution and publicity, the laws of disintermediation—the elimination of middlemen or agencies of any kind—render publishers less and less relevant. And that goes for editors, reviewers, critics, bookstores and libraries. “Gatekeepers”—the priestly class that tends the holy flame of literary taste and tells us what is gold and what is dross—may have little place in a world where the best judges of taste are readers themselves.
As Big Publishing becomes more and more dysfunctional and authors grasp the capabilities of the new paradigm, the transformation of the book from a three-dimensional object to a dematerialized but richly sensory experience will accelerate. And so will the redefinition, the reinvention, the repurposing of the author, as we progress—reluctantly but inexorably—on the road to virtual.To comment, see below. For longer musing, try our symposium.
Thursday 03 March 05
LORD CRISCOCHEST'S MAIDEN...
Headspace-On my stereo: Mad Dogs And Englishmen by Joe Cocker; In my backpack: The End Of Faith: Religion, Terror And The Future Of Reason by Sam Harris; On my nightstand: The Broker by John Grisham; On my computer: What the Uneducated Old Woman Told Me by Christopher Reid; On my screen, The Office: Christmas Special (***) directed by Stephen Merchant and written by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant.
In the early '90s when I used to frequent a couple of IRC channels dedicated to writers, I found a lot romance writers in the mix. I've actually read a few romance novels—most typically written by people I had met—and they're good and bad just like all genre's of fiction. But the covers, designed to draw readers standing in lines at grocery stores, have always been universally bad.
Mark Longmire (I have to use that last name as a character someday), a graphic designer from Knoxville, Tennessee decided to have some fun with a few covers and photoshopped a wonderful series. The two above are my favorites.
You can see the rest on his website: The Wonderful World Of Longmire-The Internet's Leader In Wasted Pixels. There are even a few extras done by Longmire's readers, although I don't think they are half as good as his.
Thanks to Terry at I See Invisible People for the tip.To comment, see below. For longer musing, try our symposium.
Wednesday 02 March 05
Michael Ledeen offers his thoughts on the revolution in Lebanon. ...one must immerse oneself in the context, to fully understand the moment in which the event took place. I'm all for immersion.
To comment, see below. For longer musing, try our symposium.
CONSERVATIVES DO HAVE FUN...!
Headspace-On my stereo: 9th Symphony by Ludwig Van Beethoven, conducted by Leonard Berstein in Berlin, 25 December 89; In my backpack: The End Of Faith: Religion, Terror And The Future Of Reason by Sam Harris; On my nightstand: The Broker by John Grisham; On my computer: Theater by William Greenway; On my screen, The Office: Christmas Special (***) directed by Stephen Merchant and written by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant.
This is today's Prickly City from Scott Stantis, one of the three conservative cartoonists I read daily (the others are Bruce Tinsley who draws Mallard Fillmore and Chris Muir who draws Day By Day). Stantis also draws more traditional political cartoons with a wonderful bite. One of my pseudo New Year's resolutions was to read more conservative cartoonists (Right Wing Comics... 28 November). It's a helpful exercise.
In addition I got an email passed along to me by my inestimable webgoddess about another conservative funny. A few years ago my students clued me in on the fortune cookie game where you read your fortune and add the words ...in bed. It can make even the most boring fortunes hilarious.
Here's how the conservative version works. Take any phrase uttered by a conservative or, especially, neo-conservative politician and add the words ...if you're rich. For instance:
Privatizing social security makes a lot of sense ...if you're rich!
Our health care system is the best in the world ...if you're rich!
The economy under Bush is the strongest it's ever been ...if you're rich!To comment, see below. For longer musing, try our symposium.
Tuesday 01 March 05
THE CARNE VALE OF HISTORY...
Headspace-On my stereo: Swiss Movement by Les McCAnn & Eddie Harris; In my backpack: The End Of Faith: Religion, Terror And The Future Of Reason by Sam Harris; On my nightstand: The Broker by John Grisham; On my computer: Riveted by Robyn Sarah; On my screen, The Office: Christmas Special (***) directed by Stephen Merchant and written by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant.
John J. McKay is a self-styled grumpy, aging liberal with a penchant for debunking bad history lessons. In his inaugural issue of Archy, he shines something stronger than moonlight on the administration's attempts to draw a parallel between the insurgents in Iraq and Operation Werewolf in occupied Germany following the end of the second world war. In Condi's Greatest Hits he writes:
The real Operation Werewolf had a little reality and a lot of myth. The reality was a plan to train troops in guerilla tactics and sabotage, to create hidden supply depots in the Bavarian and Austrian Alps, and to make Germany ungovernable for the Allied occupiers. The reality was more like an unfunded Bush social program; the supply depots never materialized and the troops were mostly Hitler Youth boys who, as soon as the command structure vanished, ditched their guns and cyanide capsules and went home.
Historical revisionists get a lot of attention when they attempt to discount things like the Holocaust, but we need to be just as careful about fact checking other historical claims by our leaders.To comment, see below. For longer musing, try our symposium.