Saturday, October 31, 2009

Of Flattering Comparisons

Photomontage showing what a complete iceberg m...Image via Wikipedia

Well, don't we like to say -- and I mean you; don't stare at me over the salted rim of your margarita -- that we are quite heftily mysterious, that like the iceberg only ten percent of our awesomeness shows?

Same thing true of an ice cube.

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Friday, October 30, 2009

The Ethics of Undercover Reporting

Poynter Ethics Fellows 2008Image by Burnt Pixel via Flickr

That's the topic of the next essay my ethics students owe me. Much of the "literature" (pompous word for journalists wondering out loud) is against it, but I think the issue is not really a matter of "direct ethics" -- journalists at heart think it's unethical -- but ethics at a remove. That is, if enough readers/viewer think it's unethical and if engaging in it costs credibility, then the practical cost of it is greater than the value of whatever facts would not otherwise be obtained.

And let's step back one more remove: The malefactors exposed can sue for fraud if the undercover reporter has filled out (let us say) an employment application that disguises the reporter's true work background. As in many libel cases, juries too often side with the "victim," and even if the news organization wins on appeal, the financial costs discourage future risk-taking.

The bean counters never forget.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Rose is Going to be a "Wild One"

The Rosemobile

Pat is shopping around for one of these for Our Rose as I call his Rose now that she has been our houseguest in his absence. He will, of course, settle for a used one -- as long as it fits. You would think there would be many such out there on Craigslist or Ebay, given the fact dachshunds are susceptible to problems with their rear legs.

But so far not. As it is my duty, so is it yours to keep our collective eye open (the eye that shops, hence the general singular) to help him out.

That clash of leather and metal in the distance and getting closer with every second! It's a bondage and domination squirrel! It's a stunt miniature from Transformers 2!!

Oh no and oh boy. It's Our Rose.
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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

My Life Hung by a Thread

San Francisco: San Francisco-Oakland Bay BridgeImage by wallyg via Flickr

A sturdy metaphorical cable in the sense that this evening I crossed the Bay Bridge heading into Frisco about ten minutes before the bridge started to fall apart. I was going in the shepherd my reporting lambs through a USF student senate meeting. Them shepherded, I headed home listening to bulletin-averse public radio and thus learned the bridge had been closed down only when the flares that nudged me one lane over nudged another and then another lane over and then off the freeway entirely.

Educated by KCBS, I did a U on city streets, took the freeway back to the Van Ness exit, then up to Lombard, crawled westward on Lombard, worked my way up Doyle Drive and move darn briskly across the Golden Gate Bridge till I bogged down again where I had to leave 101 in Larkspur to get to the Richmond Bridge. Things picked up on the approach and stayed picked up across the span and back toward Oakland where I dropped by City Hall to pick up E. from work -- I don't let her come home from the office until she's made her "nut" -- and thus home for tea and Colbert.
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A Cartoon at the Expense of Twitter

Inspired by a post at Brother Pabst's fishlanguage, I commented, and in that comment imagined a hypothetical cartoon, and the creative excitement rose to such a degree that I stole an image online so that I could create the cartoon. So it's no longer hypothetical.

Are you twittering this?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Administering the Ethics Midterm: The Power is Intoxicating

I know what the answers are. I might not know *that* the answers are, if you get my drift. That's where the intoxication of power comes in. Here's my favorite question because it has diagrams.

G. Ethics and trolley problems. (6 points) In the first illustration, the trolley is hurtling down the main track. If the man at the switch throws it, the trolley will go onto the side track, killing the man tied to the side track. If he does not, the four on the main track will die. In the second illustration, the man on the bridge knows that if he pushes the fat man next to him onto the main track, the weight of the fat man will stop the trolley and the four people on the main track will not die, though the fat man will be killed. Based on our class discussion, discuss the differences (if any) some ethicists find between the two dilemmas.

Okay. That's not the diagram I actually used. But I could have. That's the point,

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Don Draper in Tears. Oh No.

Title page of the second quarto edition (Q2) o...Image via Wikipedia

Next dinner party I will raise the question of what *is* soap opera, what is the essential shortcoming that claws it back from the realm of art.

I mean, Romeo and Juliet is pretty soapy, innit, amidst all the gorgeous words? (It's a wine-bright question and fit for our new round table.)

I'm primed to talk the subject because tonight on Mad Men Betty confronts Don about getting into his drawer of secrets last week, and he tells pretty much all -- unless there was a flashback I missed. E. thinks that Betty now has the upper hand in the caste war with her husband, rampant sexism or not.

All pretty soapy, right, all this confrontation and contrition and adultery all around?

E. asked another even more interesting question when all was done: Will Don's loss of domestic power hurt his creativity, to which I added the adjacent possibility that if he actually resolved some of his angst would *that* hurt his creativity?

God knows my own genius feeds on my flagrant neuroses, which also make me quite charming at dinner.
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Saturday, October 24, 2009

When Your Heart is in Despair, Sing. *Sing*

The Whooper Walks on By

Whooping Cranes USFWS.Image via Wikipedia

My old acquaintance from Whooping Jesus Bible College -- a very *slight* acquaintance, whose missionary visit to the Greater Bay Area was referenced a couple days ago, called again to make sure E. and I really did not want to have a meal with him.

I said I didn't want to. I said that "my years at (WJBC) were not the happiest of my life." We chatted for a while. He didn't know exactly what to say. I offered to have an email conversation about WJBC and my feelings toward it if he wished, but he seemed to just want to keep talking and let the spirit work.

I said "uh-huh" a lot and then told a beige lie -- I really did need to get going, or to make preparations for the getting of going -- and hung up.

E. had told me I should blame my unwillingness to take a meal with this fellow on her, that she was the stumbling block.

Oh great, I said. I am not a bold pagan but a pathetic pussy-whipped pagan. (Say that three times fast and then sacrifice a goat.) So I manned up to my own breach with god.

Now, the odd thing is I did not have that bad a time at WJBC, almost certainly no worse a time than I would have had at any college, beset as I was with pimples, style-free clothes inherited from my uncle and a severe case of ingrown personality.

I resented WJBC because it so completely encapsulated, summarized and exemplified who I was at the time, a hillbilly Jesus Boy terrified of a great many things, particularly thinking for myself. WJBC suited me so well. I have been a long time learning to think for myself and am not there yet.

The complexity of my disdain for Alma Mediocre is rooted in the fact that E. and I hooked up there. That worked out. We've tag-teamed our way through life, battling our heritage, roped together on the difficult climb up and out. As I said: It's worked out. If WJBC was the price of finding E. -- rather like one of those Lifetime romances about love among the ruins of war -- well hell okay.

But I will always associate it with intellectual and emotional paralysis. And I will associate that paralysis with E. because she was its antithesis, quivering with curiosity and indignation, just so damn alive intellectually and otherwise.

And that was just so damn sexy.

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Google: Where God Leaves His Fingerprints

I do love the Google. A little while ago someone I knew slightly at Whooping Jesus Bible College called to say he was in town for the weekend and would E. and I like to have dinner tomorrow?

I put him off until I had a chance to use the Google. Maybe he shed the WJBC timestamp and heard I'd done the same?

But no. As the Google made clear, he's still a serious Whooper, officially on the prowl in the name of the school for lost souls and any stray bits of cash they have lying around.

This is a discussion I don't need.

Pat and Mike Go to the UFL (Part I)

Those Quads, Those Calves

Regular Thursday morning bike riding with Pat. Cut eight minutes off our recent best time.

Cue the applause.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Howls and Whispers

Howl and Other Poems was published in the fall...Image via Wikipedia

Today over at the U. the English department organized a public serial reading, mostly by profs and kids, of Ginsberg's "Howl" to celebrate National Reading Week.

It is a vigorous poem, Whitman with his pubes ablaze you might say, and I do enjoy hearing it read well. But maybe it was the burden of filling an outdoor space with sound or maybe it was the fact those who had the gusto didn't want to outshine those who didn't -- whatever the reason, too many read in zombie tones,as if surprised and a little distressed at what they were reading.

If you don't sound as if you've recently been beaten with a hose and somewhat resented it, when it comes to saying "Howl" why bother? Proclaiming the joys of consensual sodomy with rough trade isn't tea shoppe conversation.

(I don't think, though those are not my areas of expertise, either of 'em.)

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Monday, October 19, 2009


Cover of "Antimatter (Star Trek Deep Spac...Cover via Amazon

Which I swaddle in quotations marks because it's a term I dislike, at least applied to journalism. I dislike the connotation, which is that a journalist is doing something that approaches the status of a scientific inquiry, and that journalists can do their job in a spirit of detachment and neutrality.

We were talking about this in Journalism Ethics today, though I confess it was one of my high RPM days, and I did not do a good job of promoting discussion, and the class was left hanging because after much prodding of them, and some confusing of them, I chose not to sum up, thinking it vain to hog all the brilliance.

If I had summed up, I would have insisted that we should put the O-word beside the N-word and leave it right out of civilized discourse. As that fulmination turns to ash, I concede that I am inclined to pursue some of (expletive deleted's) constituent elements as one might the Pole Star. Though Fox has certainly wiped its ass on the slogan "fair and balanced," I am not uncomfortable saying that a journalist should aspire to such.

Fairness is a kind of schoolyard virtue, the implication being it is a quality driven by fundamental character, not deracinated brainpower, an act both simple and elusive.

As for "balanced," once you get past the idea that everything in your story must contradicted, like matter and antimatter in one of a hundred Star Trek episodes -- sometimes it shouldn't be; sometimes there's one true thing so leave it alone, uncontradicted -- and once you accept there are times where a statement *should* be balanced but that balancing may be a *mosaic* of alternatives and not just the old two-ended seesaw, well, with all that stipulated I really do like the notion of pursuing balance.

As long as you accept the responsibility of refusing to juggle every ball thrown your way in the name of a "balanced story." If you're asked to juggle a rotten egg, throw it back. What I'm saying with that little comparison is simple: We have a responsibility to be accurate. You may call it facticity or naive empiricism, but it's where we start. Even 10 years ago that seemed less urgent. It seemed the greater problem was the unwillingness to sift the facts and arrive at an opinion. But in this age of Fox's Ministry of Truth and bloggers who certainly *can* function as reporters, and deserve the title, but just don't bother, given the fact that facts muddy their opinions, I have a renewed respect for simple facts. (Facts are such a speedbump, aren't they?)

I understand selective presentation of accurate information can be deeply dishonest, but that pales besides all those voices -- the lazy, the incompetent, the shameless liars -- that are out there right now just making shit up.
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Friday, October 16, 2009

How Much Do You Make? Fair Question ... Isn't It?

Sometimes I contact those interviewed by my reporting students to get the subject's ideas about how professional the students are. Recently, I got this response.

(She) was a pleasant interviewer except when she got to the question about my salary. In 35 years in Higher Ed I don't think I ever had a student ask me that question which I found most inappropriate.

I replied:

My responsibility! I *insist* students ask the question, if only to get used to being rebuffed. Sometimes it’s a useful piece of info, as is age. Of course, I don’t encourage students to ask those questions with an eye to getting a “refused to comment” into the story. Occasionally that’s appropriate, particularly with those in the public eye, but seldom otherwise.

I can imagine having a class full of tabloid types who ask rude irrelevant, even cruel, questions and need to be dialed back if only for their own safety. I have never had such a class. There are two big problems with U.S. journalism right now, I'd say.

One is inaccuracy. As (I think) Daniel Patrick Moynihan said, We are all entitled to our own opinions but not to our own facts. The second is timidity, self-censorship about what may be asked and what not. Fill up your notebook, I tell students. Just because you have it, doesn't mean you have to use it.

I Really Do Like the Stool Chart from Yesterday

Alexander PopeImage via Wikipedia

I was actually looking for a picture of a nice wooden stool to tart up my post -- Friends of the Blog are well aware that as my posts have grown shorter, less frequent and less substantive, I fall back on "art" the way the GOP falls back on paranoid conspiracy theories.

But Zemanta, which bit of software saves you the trouble of searching for the semi-appropriate picture, coughed it up. And when I saw it I thought of Alexander Pope's "Essay on Criticism," with its tribute to art which acknowledges the value of the familiar, centered and burnished but not obscured.

Some to Conceit alone their taste confine,
And glitt'ring thoughts struck out at every line;
Pleas'd with a work where nothing's just or fit,
One glaring chaos and wild heap of wit.
Poets, like painters, thus unskill'd to trace
The naked nature and the living grace,
With gold and jewels cover every part,
And hide with ornaments their want of Art.
True Wit is Nature to advantage dress'd,
What oft was thought, but ne'er so well express'd;
Something whose truth convinced at sight we find,
That give us back the image of our mind.
As shades more sweetly recommend the light,
So modest plainness sets of sprightly wit:
For works may have more wit than does them good,
As bodies perish thro' excess of blood.

Don't tell me you didn't think the same -- if we sub "often thought about" for "often thought."

But back to my point. In this weird shameless confessional, there are still some things with which we have the most urgent personal concerns but keep private. Yesterday in this blog: one less.

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Routine Post About a Routine Bike Ride

Kyle Thompson, self made. Stool images and tex...Image via Wikipedia

It's a tradition now, my Thursday morning bike ride with Pat. 'T was humid with spitting rain, but overall a fine gray morning with the Bayside track to ourselves most of the way. Pat asked if I was fuelled by my dose of replacement hormones, and I said perhaps I was fuelled by the fact of diagnosis and therapy commenced rather than by the actual therapy.

Who knows? I'm taking a miniscule dose of artificial thyroxin, only 0.05 milligrams. Whether or not this is an effective dose awaits a blood test in six weeks. Now I need to cut down on carbs and push my glucose lower.

And I used to laugh about old folks who talked only of aches, pains, bunions and (oh woe) the quantity and quality of their stool.
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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Placebo Effect Kicks In

* ru: Бурый медведь (Московский зоопарк) * en:...Image via Wikipedia

In the sense that I just took my artificial thyroxin a couple hours ago and the accompanying med lit says I shouldn't feel full benefits for at least a month.

However, I feel like wrestling a bear.

Postscript: It's 5 p.m. I withdraw the challenge. If the bear shows up, it will win by forfeit.
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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tomorrow at 6:30 a.m. *I Take My First Dose of Artificial Thyroxin*

And well you might ask:

What rough beast its hour come round at last slouches toward Bethlehem to be born

Would Some Please Tell Me What to Think

Health care for all protest outside health ins...Image by Steve Rhodes via Flickr

Health care refrom --or perhaps merely health insurance reform -- moves forward, as the Baucus bill passes out of committee. I am not sure if I should be glad that something of partial value may yet be passed or if we are now likely to get a shit pill that will cause more problems that it solves, wound the Dems and doom us to some Republican Mussolini.

That the Republicans hate it is promising, isn't it? But what if, for all its protest, this is yet another profit boost for the insurance industry??

I guess I'll think whatever Kevin Drum thinks.
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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Can You ... See a ... Brand New Day?

It's official. I have an underactive thyroid and will now start taking a supplement. I've gained weight over the past year, and Lord knows many a day I've felt like rolling over and staying in bed, but I thought it was merely age and the joys of chairship.

As the latter comment suggests, I don't need an irony supplement.

Send in the Cows

Female Band Serenading CowsImage by Wisconsin Historical Society via Flickr

Quite a successful P. Finley Memorial Poetry salon last night, I think.

Pawler hosted it at a spacious quintessential Berkeley house where she was pet sitting -- by quintessential I mean same-sex couple, three cats, a dog, lots of original architectural touches (including picture molding) that settle one down, as if the past is something which one need not flee just because we are locked firm in our embrace of the future.

The usual suspects shone -- The Wieder's "dumb superman" bit; McKenney's double whammy of Wallace Stevens and John Keats; a D-Hard poem from his Dylan Thomas' period. And speaking of Dylans, Newblood Mort read the lyrics to Desolation Row to great effect. (From such mash we brew our potent joy.)

There was more of a goodly nature, but let us cutteth to the chaseth, to the surprises. Pawler finished off the evening with a very effective personal essay involving the 303 books that were listed in the inventory of her father's estate during the time she duelled with sibs and established a conservatorship for his drifting self. (Ancillary point: The lawyers ripped off the estate by producing such a detailed inventory.)

The books were bookends for her essay -- and the spine of it, too -- as she paid tribute to the old man and the churn of love and hate we call family. It was touching and well done, and I suppose that was no surprise at all, Miss Pawler, but you never know what will happen when you toss someone into the cleanup slot at a salon. Lovely writing and lovely telling.

So the *real* surprise was David's telling of what it was like to do real harvesting on a real farm, a dairy farm in Wisconsin, somewhere East of Eden (Green Bay, actually). The declared salon theme was harvest, and people stuck to it to a startling degree. (I was startled. Salonistas are loathe to be told.)

David's reminiscence was short and detailed, about all the planting and reaping that milking 30 cows entailed. The *surprise* lay in the reaction. Let me tell something to my disadvantage. As emcee, concerned with nothing more than pace and none with joy, behaving as one might do running a chain gang, I was ready to give a quick back pat and move on. But Big Pat intervened, asking David about the smells of harvest and of the storing of the sweet, sour, flammable product.

And suddenly, and almost without precedent, we had a discussion of the details of farm life and of the possibility of city agriculture. I don't recall such a moment of real connection at a salon before. Oh sure we will ooooh and ahhhhhh at beauty, giggle when startled, wince when offended. But such give and take!

I call it Salon 2.0.


If Pawler steps up into the salon rotation and Lyle and Matt step up after Lyle's return from New Mexico, maybe we can jump start yet another cycle of salons, with me and E. doing our share but not making it our show. Pawler's was the first salon in mygod two years? I do love the salons. They mutate, it seems. Who would have thought we would find such pleasure in silage?


E. said hey boyo. Why you dint mention Susana's tribute to Sukkos, Gayle's beautiful Mary Oliver's, Daniel's autobiographical evocation of pain and connection and Kate's tales from a doomed garden?

And I said: oops.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Most Anthologized Poem in the World? So I've Read




SEASON of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.


Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.


Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

Friday, October 09, 2009

When I Talk a Poem, I Expect It to Talk Back

Lying here with E. resting by my side, patient but at ease; she will not sleep till I sleep. Here I lie working the net, confirming that old memories actually are links to poems and not a kind of memory hash now turned into something too attenuated to profitably remember.

(By profit I mean I can *find* the bastards. *There* you are, not exactly but close enough.)

I've had some good luck. I found something. What I am thinking is what kind of poem it is that I like, and that is one that I mostly understand.

Not all. That would be vulgar, even cheap. But mostly, with a fine last line that I could almost have written myself, at least in my imagination.

Philip Larkin, "Autumn"

The air deals blows: surely too hard, too often?
No: it is bent on bringing summer down.
Dead leaves desert in thousands, outwards, upwards,
Numerous as birds; but the birds fly away,

And the blows sound on, like distant collapsing water,
Or empty hospitals falling room by room
Down in the west, perhaps, where the angry light is.
Then rain starts; the year goes suddenly slack.

O rain, o frost, so much has still to be cleared:
All this ripeness, all this reproachful flesh,
And summer, that keeps returning like a ghost
Of something death has merely made beautiful,

And night skies so brilliantly spread-eagled
With their sharp hint of a journey--all must disperse
Before the season is lost and anonymous,
Like a London court one is never sure of finding

But none the less exists, at the back of the fog,
Bare earth, a lamp, scrapers. Then it will be time
To seek there that ill-favoured, curious house,
Bar up the door, mantle the fat flame,

And sit once more alone with sprawling papers,
Bitten-up letters, boxes of photographs,
And the case of butterflies so rich it looks
As if all summer settled there and died.

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Why Obama Won the Nobel Peace Prize

Last minute sub for Letterman.

Scenes from Amidst the Tumult

Detail of The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci"No, I haven't had my flu shot." Image via Wikipedia:

To Kaiser we went this morning to get some blood tests and our regular flu shots.

Long line for flu shots, about half the length of the 3rd floor in the Fabiola Building. When I finally got to the sticking stage, the shooter asked me my birthdate: six-ten-forty four, I said.

And she burst into song:

In 1944/My mother went to war/She lost her girdle/And shot a turtle/And then the war was done

I laughed long and hard, though not so robustly they had to call security. The shooter said she learned the song from her mother when the shooter was a little girl. The shooter said she figured the song meant more than it said if you know what I mean?

Yeah. Like the Da Vinci Code, I said.

When E. and I left, the flu line had swollen and doubled back on itself. E. said this was a result of anxiety and confusion. Even those who do not follow the news closely and who live by word-of-mouth had picked up that there was a sort of flu thing going on. They had (metaphorically) gotten in line because there was a line. E. hoped that those who really also need the Genuine Swine Flu shot will come back and get that, too.

I'm wit' you, I said, bantering as furiously as Nick Charles to Nora.

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My Cholesterol Medication Works

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Riding, Walking, Wincing

Human Foot, sagital view, Bone and transparent...Image via Wikipedia

What a morning: a brisk hour on the bike in the fog along the Bay with Big Pat, then a quick lunch downtown with E. to leave her the car, then a walk home in the sun beside the lake.

And the ball of my left foot hurts. Dr. Stumpf (codename Stumpy) says no no no don't come in until you try a metatarsal pad, which (he says) is so much better than a mere insole.

Sit quietly without drawing attention to yourself and I will come back later to tell you if I agree with him.
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Maine Learns from California's Mistakes. Let's Hope California Can Learn From Maine's Success.

Maybe Pabst will grade this ad. I like it.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Glum Time

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Di...Image via Wikipedia

I was at a meeting this afternoon, and I struggled mightily against my urge to be passive-aggressive. I thought that's what I was fighting against. After the meeting, I wondered if I was correctly identifying my temptation, my siren disorder of the soul. I wandered around the net a little and found this at

(I)f you look under "passive-aggressive personality disorder" (PAPD) in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (the older editions--more about that below), you find the syndrome solemnly described as a "pervasive pattern of passive resistance to demands for adequate social and occupational performance." But once you delve into the history of the term, you realize that--at least in the eyes of its critics--it's mostly useful as a high-flown way to call someone a pain in the ass.

The term "passive-aggressive" was introduced in a 1945 U.S. War Department technical bulletin, describing soldiers who weren't openly insubordinate but shirked duty through procrastination, willful incompetence, and so on. If you've ever served in the military during wartime, though, or for that matter read Catch-22, you realize that what the brass calls a personality disorder a grunt might call a rational strategy to avoid getting killed.

After the war the term found its way into civilian psychiatric practice and for many years was listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, the bible of the mental health trade. According to the revised third edition (DSM-III-R, 1987), someone had PAPD if he displayed five or more of the following behaviors: (1) procrastinates, (2) sulks or argues when asked to do something he doesn't want to do, (3) works inefficiently on unwanted tasks, (4) complains without justification of unreasonable demands, (5) "forgets" obligations, (6) believes he is doing a much better job than others think, (7) resents useful suggestions, (8) fails to do his share, or (9) unreasonably criticizes authority figures.

Only five out of nine, and you're it? I was not comforted. But our clever writer finishes up, after suggesting that avoiding certain kinds of confrontation can be a rational act of self-defense:

Recognizing that the definition as then formulated wasn't working but uncertain how to fix it, the compilers of DSM-IV (1994) dumped PAPD from the list of official disorders and relegated it to an appendix. The most telling complaint, in my opinion, was that merely being passive-aggressive isn't a disorder but a behavior--sometimes a perfectly rational behavior, which lets you dodge unpleasant chores while avoiding confrontation. It's only pathological if it's a habitual, crippling response reflecting a pervasively pessimistic attitude--people who suffer from PAPD expect disappointment, and gain a sense of control over their lives by bringing it about. Some psychiatrists have suggested that PAPD be merged into a broader category, called negativistic personality disorder. Diagnostic criteria: passive-aggressive plus (a) mad at the world, (b) envious and resentful, (c) feels cheated by life, and (d) alternately hostile and clingy.

We'll let the specialists work out the details. For now, though, we lay folk should strive to use the term "passive-aggressive" more precisely in everyday life. Say for instance that a coworker cheerfully agrees to refrain from a specified uncool act, then does it anyway. Is this passive-aggressive behavior? No, this is being an asshole. Comforting as it can be to pigeonhole our tormentors with off-the-shelf psychiatric diagnoses, sometimes it's best just to call a jerk a jerk.

So there you (may) have it. Today I really felt like being a jerk.

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Saturday, October 03, 2009

At the Time I Thought It Was a Good Idea

Was just prowling around the computer looking for pictures that commemorate the history of the Patrick Finley Memorial Poetry salon and stumbled on this from another place and time. I'm thinking of asking all the members of the Patrick Finley Memorial Fantasy Baseball League -- a different thing; a men's chorus -- to produce similar photos from the 60s and 70s.

The thing is that this is the way we were, and we loved ourselves. The remarkable thing is that there were women who loved us, too, as is (or as was, anyway).

Friday, October 02, 2009

Pat's Rose is Old. We Fortify Ourselves in Art. Works for Cats, Too, Likely for Guinea Pigs and Parrots. For the Rest, Applications Being Accepted.

1973 U.S.Image via Wikipedia

Brother Peter Moore unearthed this.

The House Dog's Grave

by Robinson Jeffers (1887-1962)

I've changed my ways a little; I cannot now
Run with you in the evenings along the shore,
Except in a kind of dream; and you,
If you dream a moment,
You see me there.

So leave awhile the paw-marks on the front door
Where I used to scratch to go out or in,
And you'd soon open; leave on the kitchen floor
The marks of my drinking-pan.

I cannot lie by your fire as I used to do
On the warm stone,
Nor at the foot of your bed; no,
All the nights through I lie alone.

But your kind thought has laid me less than six feet
Outside your window where firelight so often plays,
And where you sit to read‚
And I fear often grieving for me‚
Every night your lamplight lies on my place.

You, man and woman, live so long, it is hard
To think of you ever dying.
A little dog would get tired, living so long.
I hope that when you are lying
Under the ground like me your lives will appear
As good and joyful as mine.

No, dears, that's too much hope:
You are not so well cared for as I have been.
And never have known the passionate undivided
Fidelities that I knew.
Your minds are perhaps too active, too many-sided...
But to me you were true.

You were never masters, but friends. I was your friend.
I loved you well, and was loved. Deep love endures
To the end and far past the end. If this is my end,
I am not lonely. I am not afraid. I am still yours.

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Thursday, October 01, 2009

Biking with Pat, or "The Goddess is My Co-Pilot"

Departure of the Amazons, by Claude Deruet, 1620.Image via Wikipedia

One of best days ever for biking along the Bay, given the temperature, the views of the city, the absence of wind. Some knee pain, but -- as Pat promised -- that subsided.

Good luck or good design? Perhaps indicating I'm still not hitting on all eight, I put my bike on the bike carrier and forgot to strap it down. I notice this on the express way at 70 looking in the rear view mirror.

The bike did not bounce off! Well, one side of it did, but because of the rake of support bars, it bounced toward the back of the car and was still held up by those support bars.

I like to think that on Amazon Island, Mom took The Goddess aside and whispered: "My son-in-law needs a little help. Please?"
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