| Flight 1490 |
Operated as UNITED FOR TED
| Denver, CO (DEN) |
Sat, Sep 29
Saturday, September 29, 2007
Friday, September 28, 2007
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Are you in the middle class, upper middle class or among the richest top 1 percent?
Unbelievably, in 2004 when Al Gore dismissed George W. Bush’s plan for tax cuts as a benefit for the richest 1 percent, polls showed that 19 percent of Americans believed they were in that top 1 percent, and another 21 percent thought they would be there in the next 10 years.
Even at the height of the Depression, when a similar poll was taken, most people placed themselves in an economic status much higher than they actually were in.
The last month has been terrible for my team. Injuries plus ineptitude caused me to slide from 70 points and 2nd place to 55 points and 9th place, quite a dizzying tumble. I fiddled with the name, adding bunny-wunnies, subtracting bunny-wunnies, even changing the name of the team to "I am Sparta!" there for a while.
But nothing worked. (Yes; I understand that it could not possibly "work"; so don't come to my door with a handful of literature.) So I retreated, as you will see below.
Then my team warmed up. With four days to go, I just conceivably could crawl into 4th, the last of the "paying" positions. As only I would go to the trouble to compute, the chances of my doing so are about 1-in-7.
But we are not discouraged. Not to put too fine a point on it, tonight the bunny-wunnies dine in hell.
Patrick Finley Memorial Standings for games through 9/26/2007
|T. S. Intellectual, OBE||7.0||9.0||11.0||9.0||8.0||8.0||6.0||11.0||7.5||9.0||85.5|
|Leaves of Grass||9.0||2.0||1.0||6.0||9.0||7.0||11.0||4.0||9.0||8.0||66.0|
|The Sushi Strangers||1.0||4.0||3.0||5.0||5.0||9.0||9.0||3.0||10.0||11.0||60.0|
|The Poor Sad Bunny-Wunny||5.0||6.5||5.0||7.0||4.0||3.0||10.0||10.0||6.0||3.0||59.5|
|The Money Shot||2.0||6.5||8.0||8.0||11.0||6.0||3.0||9.0||2.5||1.0||57.0|
|Little Chi Chi||3.0||11.0||4.0||11.0||6.5||2.0||5.0||7.0||4.5||2.0||56.0|
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
* old used-up whore
Personally, I prefer existential hero, crushed by the burden of freedom but rising under it, making the doomed choice rather than knuckling to the machine lords, living by the code of truth-telling though no one listens.
It is a serious question, all joking aside. Perhaps, the answer most often is corporate drone, though I'm not sure that's a philosophical position.
P.S. I forgot anti-intellectual. The highlight of my most recent lecture was apologizing for one of those moments when I went breezing past some convoluted philosophical tidbit with a journalist's shrug and mug. Fact is at my age less seldom do I blame myself and my native intelligence when I cannot decipher some thick bit of theory. This is a healthy tendency, but you can overdo it, you really can.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
The "Ralph Nader Democratic Caucus Campaign Draft Committee" is seeking campaign workers in Iowa and New Hampshire, according to advertisements placed on Craigslist.
And I say to Ralph:
"You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately… Depart, I say; and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!"
Monday, September 24, 2007
His four-town structure produces more repetition than illumination. The Mobile section is by far the best. A little bit of snow-covered Minnesota goes a long way. I would have thought I would have grooved on all the nostalgia -- brave old guys! my meat! -- but apparently this is not so.
Also, I already know quite a lot about WWII. Nothing on screen I haven't seen before other than some slightly bigger piles of slightly more manged bodies. Maybe it's better in big-screen high def.
Really, I wouldn't mind a more challenging approach. I wouldn't mind a slightly more critical view, suggesting not how we finally won it, but how we might have won it better and caused fewer problems afterward.
Still, the show has many hours to go. Let us hope for the best. But watching is starting to feel like a duty.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Friday, September 21, 2007
Just ludicrous, absolutely cynical and exploitive. Still, I am touched by it. I think it was Pauline Kael who pointed out that you can weep at dreck -- particularly in the darkness of the movie theater -- and can and should be embarrassed by the fact.
It turns out some of the alumni who dropped by the blog can get a little prickly.
This is useful back and forth for so many reasons, from basic questions of blog etiquette to just what your responsibilities are in the newsroom when you have strong, unconventional, even unpopular opinions about something as innocuous as which aspects of popular culture should be written about and how and in what context.
Should you stand up as the voice of your particular point of view, if only to create balance in the news package? Should you "witness," that word construed as broadly as possible, to your bosses and your fellow news workers?
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
When the ethical push comes to moral shove, we all have our peculiar concerns, our words carved over the door. My mantra is that a journalist's job is persuading your sources to tell you more than they want to tell you, working them and working them to squeeze it all out. This involves all kinds of logic chopping as you consider which means are fair and which are unfair when it comes to milking the interview.
Only once you have all the quotes and paraphrases can you decide what to do with it all. You may choose not to use it for all kinds of reasons, from fear of the law to simple kindness.
But what if you are too weak to resist emptying your notebook because it's all so good? I think students sometimes fear that. They fear the choice and thus do not interview as aggressively as I might like. Better not to know, they think.
The interviewing section makes a nice lead-in to our discussion of John Milton and his Areopagitica. Milton (I think) would agree that whenever temptation arises in the exercise of your journalism, that's a good thing, and sometimes you must put yourself in its way:
I cannot praise a fugitive and cloistered virtue, unexercised and unbreathed, that never sallies out and sees her adversary, but slinks out of the race where that immortal garland is to be run for, not without dust and heat.
Certainly you can resist sweetness -- till it rests in your hand. You have to open the door and let the snake in to make its acquaintance.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Shall I not then (and you know I shall) quote the final lines of Tennyson's "Ulysses," a poem describing how the great adventurer, returned home after the end of the Trojan war and his great and terrible journey --but not happy to be home safe: old and bored, those Siamese twins -- decides...
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnish'd, not to shine in use!
As tho' to breathe were life.
.... and chooses to reembark with his old comrades, giving the lie to Yeats' "The Circus Animals' Desertion."
Come, my friends,
'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be that we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved heaven and earth; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
You can almost hear the scrape of the walkers as those ancient mariners limp down the dock. I dare say you note the resemblance.
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Friday, September 14, 2007
But Edwards leading the way? I get the impression that a good number of lefty Democrats whose ballot choices reflect a mix of policies and electability gravitate toward Edwards. Actually, I do, too. All things being equal, soak the rich!
Of course, what intricacies reside in the first part of that sentence -- that's the question.
The final poll results:
|50 votes total|
Thursday, September 13, 2007
And so I have, though I must admit that as I have grown older, slower and more distant from the kids and what the kids think, believe and need, I've probably sunk back into the merely odd.
(That does not place you in strong bas-relief on most faculties on most campuses. Academics are an odd tribe and all the more charming for it.)
But yesterday the calculated odd sagged into the unintentionally weird, and I might as well tell you about it because it made my wife laugh and thus can't be that bad, not actionable, or she wouldn't laugh, you think?
It all *started* with my wife. She got an email, a dim tone-deaf email filled with condescension and general cluelessness, and she did what mates do. She forwarded the email to me, said email trailing her fury.
Fond and helpful, I emailed back: "You ask them what part of 'Fuck You' they don't understand." I didn't expect her to ask. I could have just said "I love you and you're wonderful," of course, but instead I said it in code.
It was just another way of saying I love you, albeit a ferocious way. We've been married a very long time. It's not that you run out of ways to say it, but you do try to cultivate variety, adjusted to circumstance.
SWAK. Sealed with a kiss and and the sound of the back of your hand to anyone who disrepects the lady in question.
I said I emailed her back. Well, somehow I didn't hit "send" in the hurry of rushing off to journalism ethics class, which is held in a "smart classroom," which means I can plug in my laptop and project either from the laptop or from the Internet. The mechanics of the thing require you to turn on the projector first and only then plug in your laptop and turn it on and see explode in all its glory what you have carefully placed on your laptop screen in readiness.
It's quite hectic. It seems I can never quite replicate the right moves, and there are fumblings and interruptions. And so it was yesterday, and thus, after some fuss, there flashed on the big screen not a fabulous Powerpoint but an unsent email, that is:
You remember what it said. I am not engaging in gratuitous obscenity here. I am not cultivating my eccentricity. Oh no. Apparently, my eccentricity is viral.
My rude email was quickly hustled offscreen like a streaker at the Oscars, but -- also like a streaker at the Oscars -- it was noticed. Much unease and loud explanation on my part:
"My wife. An email. Well, not to her...." My students enlarged their vocabulary. So that's fatuity, they thought.
To cover the moment, I went in search of the News University, an online journalism education site supported by the Poynter Institute, which works hard trying to nuture young journalists and revive old ones beaten down in midcareer. NU has an excellent interactive unit on interviewing trauma victims, which you can click through at your own speed.
Ethics class has been talking about the ethics of interviewing.
I had not been to the site in months. It is one of those sites that -- when you return to it -- posts your username and asks for your password. So there my username bloomed on the projection screen:
I've thought since about how that username came to be. I think I remember that the day I found News University I also learned that there was a musician who called himself Old Dirty Bastard. I thought he was some old blues musician. He wasn't. He was a rapper and founding member of the WuTang Clan, whatever that was. (Dead now, dead young, poor fellow.)
Anyway, clearly I signed up for News University while in a fit of merriment over the cognomen Old Dirty Bastard. Yesterday in class up went olddirtyrobertson, and in a genuine panic I couldn't remember my password and there it hung for seconds turning into large fractions of a minute...
Well, finally, I signed in. You know what my password is? It's beeswax, and no I have no idea why. I guess I don't have to have a reason.
I'm eccentric, so they tell me.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
If you and your prostate are not the comrades in arms you once were, sleeping through till a quarter after six is a kind of victory, except that if you have, in fact, been forced to ease your bladder in the middle of the night, then how warm and cozy the bed is at six, your body devoid of urgency.
You eye the clock, burrow further into the blankets and fall back into glorious REM sleep and a fine dream that coming so close to actually getting up, you will remember and can tell your wife about in an amusing way unless it has something to do with her sister, the blonde one.
But stumbling out of bed at a quarter after six more or less ruins the few remaining shreds of night because you wake up -- if not all the way up, high enough.
Damn you, prostate, with your thickened walls.
Back to the cat. The cat seems to like its water recently freshened. My wife changes the water in the cat bowl, and it seems to like that. The flushing of the toilet seems to produce similar satisfaction, a moment of pleasure you could plug into a Coors commercial. So when I visit the toilet, the cat loiters on the low ledge nearby, loiters and watches and awaits the flush and the swirl until this morning at a quarter after six when it walked prematurely across the bowl -- strolled, you might say; it's an anxious cat but not this morning -- and thus was pissed upon, which it accepted with the equanimity of a drunken Irishman walking home through a fine Spring rain.
It didn't care, it didn't care at all. What happened to fastidious? Can a cat have a midlife crisis? Later my wife noticed the cat was damp and asked if it was raining....
I was so sleepy I had more or less left things to sort themselves out.
We freshened the cat up with a damp washcloth. It's okay now. I mean actually, it's was never not okay, apparently.
I'm sure there's a moral to this -- A watched cat is never spoiled? You can lead a cat to water but you can't make it think? -- but I can't come up with a really good one. Don't ask the cat. It's licking itself in a rude way.
Monday, September 10, 2007
Saturday, September 08, 2007
I'm sure those of you who graduated last spring enjoyed the Silver video. Older graduates: Are there any beloved faculty members that you would like to see in action in class or office? As the poet said:
Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'/ We are not now that strength which in old days/Moved heaven and earth; that which we are, we are;/One equal temper of heroic hearts,/Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will/To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
I speak, of course, for the senior faculty.
I trust by now you have sloughed off that nagging cold and are back to normal. I watched the movie "Capote" the other night and what a compelling portrayal by the actor who won the Oscar. I thought at times I was watching the real, but dearly departed, Truman. This prompted me to reread the book (which I'm doing, about half finished) and it's slow going. The writing, I feel, is sluggish, but the insight and details surrounding the killers, victims, community are powerful, precise. I forgot that TC never wrote
anything after In Cold Blood. He was a weird little man wasn't he?
That is a great movie, and I've taken my feature writing students to see it. But you are right about the book. When you come back to it, *it's not that wonderfully written.* Much of it is just workmanlike. It was the story, not the style. But all the lies and tricks he employed to get the story and stretch the story to his purposes did seem to eat at his soul. My soul doesn't have a toothmark on it! I might have had a better career if it did.
Something for ethics class....
Thursday, September 06, 2007
Tuesday, May 24, 2005
Oh damn. Next month I will be 61 and so I'm thinking about the things I said I would do during my days of 60 that I have not done.
I've done the blog. Good. I have not done the novel, which is not necessarily bad since I have a weakness for happy endings and where's the truth much less the art in that? (Editor's note: Did -- that is, finished -- the novel.)
But most vexing I have not redeemed my pledge to reestablish contact with those old old friends from college days, grad school days and down South working days, all the friends all those times before we moved here more than 25 years ago. Haven't done it.
It's hardest getting back to those friends from the time when I was a good Christian boy because I have "fallen away" so far since those days. It's not as if I have become an Episcopalian or even a Unitarian. If anyone pressed me on the question -- and no one has, so this comment is the expository equivalent of gratuitous nudity -- I would have to say I'm a generic agnostic and a Christian atheist. Yah, my old Christian friends would sure like hearing that. That will rekindle old feelings.
I was such a good boy. Let sleeping memories lie.
As for my post-Christian friends, it seems to me that there are three ideal elements to be shared when it comes to maintaining sporadic touch, and those are: new mates/ex-mates; children; jobs.
These three categories enable correspondents to celebrate and bemoan simultaneously. No one likes a Christmas letter, since Christmas letters tend to be triumphal marches. But a nice email or phone conversation in which the participants deftly mix the good and the bad is very pleasant. It's like a tennis match in which the point is prolongation. A soft shot (our A student) gets a soft response (our gifted musician). A hard shot (my ex who disputes visitation rights) gets a matching hard shot (my current who won't get a job). It's a nice dance, the point of which is that life is a compound of sad and glad, and that's something we still have in common even if shared experiences have grown dim or have been forgotten altogether.
But what if: same wife, no kids, a job whose pleasures and pains are subtle to the point of evanescence. That's me. Oh it's easy enough to reestablish contact -- once. But where do you go from there? (Face to face is easier. Get drunk and remember the dead; weep; laugh; repeat.)
Now this blog -- which is one long Christmas letter, kind of -- might be a way of maintaining touch with some old friends, and I've tried to use the blog for that a time or two. What those attempts have underlined is how much impersonality there is in a blog, how much I haven't exactly been honest about, if only through omission. This friend knows about that trouble at work, but that friend never did. She has heard all about that difficult moment in the marriage in the Eighties, but I gave him the impression my wife and I never had a sharp word. Even knowing only a little about the Real You, certain blog-reading friends know just how thick the mask is and how much it disguises and misrepresents.
So my dear old friends. More digital photos of cats and vacations, more forwarded jokes, more comic birthday cards from the Hallmark collection -- that's just about enough, don't you think? I love you to death, but my body has completely reconstituted itself four times since those margaritas at Lenox Square, the lovely Jack Daniels at the M&M. Who are we? Who were we?
But let's keep in touch. Really.
Oh. If you get a Pulitzer, please just let it lie. We have plenty of mutual friends who will call me to rub it in. But if your wife shoots you in the leg, hey, I'm here for you.
“A parody must convey two simultaneous–and contradictory messages; that it is the original, but also that it is not the original and is instead a parody. To the extent that it does only the former but not the latter, it is not only a poor parody but also vulnerable under trademark law, since the consumer will be confused.” From Cliffs Notes, Inc. v. Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, 886 F. 2d 490 (2d Cir. 1989). (Via Chilling Effects)
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
I get six and Chloe gets four; she accepts that. I get eight and Chloe gets two, she won't. And thus nobody gets anything. Hauser says you can play this game in some local version the world over and -- although in some cultures "second" players will settle for less -- there is an innate sense of fairness in cultures the world over. At some point second players *refuse to be first player's bitch* even if that decision costs. Perhaps, as Hauser says, the intuitive sense that things should be fair is bred into our bones.
I think I have this straight. I like the ethics class. Sometimes I thinks I am leading them in circles, but perhaps we learn a little something new each time around.
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
Monday, September 03, 2007
This is a great place for moving about, air-cooled and ready for the next hill, but not so good for sitting still unless you pass through or over the coastal range and then, my friend, it's just as hot as any Republican would enjoy as he tends his rage.
Yesterday, however, was one of those rare fine warm days, and we had friends over, including our two godsons, and we sat out back around the circular table and ate and drank till the sun went away. It was one of those moments in which you had a good time and and thought of good times past.
This is not necessarily confusing if there is red wine at hand and plenty of paper for folding airplanes for the godsons, lovely lopsided paper planes that do not always fly true in the warm and golden light, their motion prompting much laughter, little shock and awe.
Sunday, September 02, 2007
Thought you'd want a report.
11 things I learned at critical mass
1. BART elevators are free and work ( at least in North Berkeley and Embarcadero).
2. Show up is announced as 5:30, real show up is 6:00, begin riding at 6:20.
3.Riders are blue collar, look like they¹ve just gotten off work. Most don¹t have helmets, riding pants, any of that stuff. They wear work clothes. Did not see one East Bay cycling club outfit.
4. There is reading a Chron story about 2,000 people riding bikes, and there is being with 2,000 people riding bikes.
5. It's fun to f**k with cops. (Vladdy, you old dissident.) The word passed down the line, "The Bay Bridge is free after 8 o'clock." Leaders kept trying to get the pack onto the bridge. Dozens of cops standing before the on-ramp on Fifth. We turn left, go a few blocks, turn right aiming for the First Street on-ramp. Scores of cop cars/motorcycles turn on their sirens and haul-ass to head us off. That went on for an 45 minutes.
6. The ride is much longer than I thought it would be, 16.7 miles according to my excellent mileage computer. Ride starts at the foot of Market. The route is, most of the time, bordered by Broadway/Van Ness/Bryant/First Street. There were many variations, alleys, and an assault on tourists stranded in Union Square.
7. The ride takes much longer than I thought it would. We began around 6:20, ended close to 9:00.
8. Except for one gut-breaking up, the ride was flat or close enough to flat.
9. This is not a Save the Planet event. The vibe is, "Shove it to the man" with a righteous, "F**k the Pigs" now and then.
10. At least 100 cops got some good overtime.
11. You are on your own. Flat tire, busted chain -- nobody's going to stop and help out.
Next year in Leningrad,