Monday, March 31, 2008
Sunday, March 30, 2008
It's been a rollicking little race so far. Stick around!
Friday, March 28, 2008
Where does one begin with this moronic sound bite? How about with the meaning of the word "define." According to Webster, to define is "to determine or identify the essential qualities or meaning of." So Shi'ite militia running amok in Iraq is the essential meaning of the place? Or maybe he meant American money and American blood propping up a corrupt regime. Or the innocent people of Iraq again being slaughtered because they have the misfortune to get in the way of the U.S.'s imperialistic ambitions or ancient Islamic passions that motivate people such as Muqtada al Sadr and his AK-47- and RPG-toting followers. Or perhaps what he means is that "what defines present-day Iraq is the passel of blatant lies that continue to pour out of my mouth."
"I would say that this is a defining moment in the history of a free Iraq. There have been other defining moments up to now but this is a defining moment," the president said at a White House news conference. "It is a necessary part of the development of a free society."
I'd submit that any of the above would serve far more admirably to understand what defines Iraq today than the nonsense the president spouts.
It might also be helpful to point out that "a defining moment" is by it's nature a singular event. But the VLFWH tells us there have been other defining moments. I wonder how many singular events he has in mind. Three? Six?
I don't have time to deal with his preposterous dictum that the kind of agony Iraq is going through right now and has endured for five years because of us is "a necessary part of the development of a free society."
And to think we have months more to go before he's gone.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
I was momentarily heartened to discover via this photo of the state of Texas death chamber that
the US has not executed anyone for the past six months, the longest time without one in since 1982. I was just about to congratulate us and for a microsecond entertain the possibility that maybe this was because somehow we were growing a collective conscience when I discover that we'll start the killing again once these pesky questions about whether lethal injection violates the 8th Amendment get resolved. I was amazed to discover that since 1982, there have been 47 instances of botched executions, and many of these involve lethal injection.
But of course, by the time the constitutional question gets resolved, the hue and cry to clear out the backlog of unexecuted people will have become deafening. And suppose lethal injection in its present form does violate the 8th Amendment? Is there any doubt at all that somehow we shall find another way to kill these people?
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
It's the birthday of Robert Frost, (books by this author) born in San Francisco (1874). He cultivated the image of a rural New England poet with a pleasant disposition, but Frost's personal life was full of tragedy and he suffered from dark depressions.
He graduated from high school at the top of his class but dropped out of Dartmouth after a semester and tried to convince his high school co-valedictorian, Elinor White, to marry him immediately. She refused and insisted on finishing college first. They did marry after she graduated, and it was a union that would be filled with losses and feelings of alienation. Their first son died from cholera at age three; Frost blamed himself for not calling a doctor earlier and believed that God was punishing him for it. His health declined, and his wife became depressed. In 1907, they had a daughter who died three days after birth, and a few years later Elinor had a miscarriage. Within a couple years, his sister Jeanie died in a mental hospital, and his daughter Marjorie, of whom he was extremely fond, was hospitalized with tuberculosis. Marjorie died a slow death after getting married and giving birth, and a few years later, Frost's wife died from heart failure. His adult son, Carol, had become increasingly distraught, and Frost went to visit him and to talk him out of suicide. Thinking the crisis had passed, he returned home, and shortly afterward his son shot himself. He also had to commit his daughter Irma to a mental hospital.
And through all of this, Robert Frost still became one of the most famous poets in the United States. He said, "A poem begins with a lump in the throat; a homesickness or a love-sickness. It is a reaching out toward expression, an effort to find fulfillment. A complete poem is one where an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found the word."
And, "In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on."
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
I actually surprised myself by scoring 7 out of 10 in a little quiz on Oklahoma gun laws; what I did was answer "no" to everything that sounded reasonable and civilized, such as, is there a waiting period on gun sales? But I got tripped up on some surprise "yes" replies.
The gun laws in this state are easy to master: nothing is required to own or buy a handgun other than cash and the proper age. The state of Jokelahoma does balk at ownership and sale of guns to kids under 18, but after that, dude, help yourself to all the heat you can afford. Lovely.
Oh, by the way, one of the books I checked out today was Nonviolence by Mark Kurlansky. It's a "dangerous" idea, he says. I had not intended such a thing. (Actually, I thought another baseball book might be appropriate, being that the 2008 season of America's "national pasttime" has already started--in Tokyo. But that's another whole subject.) Something subversively subliminal must have been working on me.