Sunday, August 19, 2007

To keep your marriage brimming,
With love in the loving cup,
Whenever you're wrong, admit it;
Whenever you're right, shut up.
~Ogden Nash, born 105 years ago today

Cruising the FSJ blog, I found this very decent description of geeky guys' ideal women:

The one thing that glossy girls never seem to understand is that what really
turns on a geek is brains. We like smart women. Really smart. Given the choice of cute and dumb versus not-cute but smart, we'll go for the smarty every time. Or, like me and you and many others, we'll hold out and get a woman who's both incredibly beautiful and extremely smart. But smart is the main thing. It's the primary thing.

It mentions Marissa Mayers, ignorant me, I didn't know WTF that is, but one mildly ironic googlesearch later, I found the Experience Planner blog's take on Marissa's 9 Notions of Innovation. Wow. That is one deliciously snarky--and informative piece of blogging. I think it might actually define the art form. The 9 Notions are listed, and sort of defined in this very mocking way, with several artful pokes at the growing cult icon that is Google.

For me, the satire, the cheekiness binds the underlying facts more tightly in my memory. IMHO, that's the most obvious value of The Daily Show and its ilk.

For the record, I'm married to a brainy woman. I like to call her The Divine Philosopher. She's lovely to look at, she's a free spirit and practical, and she's one of the smartest people I know. My favorite part of being with her is that I get to be myself.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Patriot

"Are you really so scared of terrorists that you'll dismantle the
structures that made America what it is?" Milgrim heard himself ask
this with a sense of deep wonder. He was saying these things without
conciously having thought them, or at least not in such succinct
terms, and they seemed inarguable.
"If you are, you let the terrorist win. Because that is exactly, specifically, his goal, his only goal: to frighten you into surrendering the rule of law. That's why they call him 'terrorist'. He uses terrifying threats to induce you to degrade your own society."

~William Gibson, Spook Country

I stopped posting to this blog almost four months ago. I wired up this blog to require my approval for comments, and I got one that I didn't like. I kept thinking I'd come up with some clever rejoinder, and
then I'd approve the comment.

You can see how well that strategy worked. The comment was in reply to my post on 2/14 about one of my children telling me about a teacher blowing off the curriculum in favor of her own agenda. Hey, I'm no fan of the curriculum, but I'm completely against employees of the public school district deciding to just preach in class. I'm all for freedom of speech--in the appropriate venue.

So I finally got off it and approved the comment. Let freedom ring.

And here's what I think of the comment:
It's the work of a coward.

It exemplifies the cowardly stance that seems to have dominated the corporate (aka mainstream) media and most of the body politic. And I realized the other, driving home from work, that I acted like a coward in response to the comment. I wonder sometimes whether the commenter thought that he had shut me down. Maybe he was proud of it. Maybe he bragged about it.

Or maybe he was disappointed that I hadn't engaged him in a discussion. From what I can glean, he prefers to respond rather than to originate. I have no idea, really. For all I know, he's a published author. He could be a friend of mine pranking me.

The whole thing reminds me of a kid at my high school who didn't like the way I wore my hair and clothing. He happened to prefer short hair and western wear, whereas I wore my hair long with clothing to match.

Like the commenter, this kid used the word
pussy to insult me. It was rather effective. I found myself afraid of the epithet, like it was a curse. Turned out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy as I repeated in my own head.

He kept harassing me, and one day after school was out, I turned a corner, and there he was, with his friends, dipping Copenhagen snuff and talking about the rodeo. I remember this strange calm, probably because I caught him being human, you know, just hanging out with his friends. No different than me and my friends, save the subject matter.

They hadn't noticed me. I just busted out with it: "Hey, Tony. Why are you mad at me?"

"I'm not mad at you. I just think you're a pussy." Laughter from his friends complemented his leer.

"What's that? What are you calling me?"

"I think you're a wimp."

"Oka-a-a-y. What's

He hesitated. One of his friends said, "He's sayin' you won't stand up for yourself." Tony nodded, a bit relieved at not having to think any further.

"Okay. And what does that mean? You think I should punch you for calling me a pussy? Like this is some kind of test?"

Everyone hesitated, then. Some of them got up and backed away.

The difference was that I'd just come from gymnastics class. My muscles were pumped, and I was wearing a tee shirt. Tony's decision to call me names had been based on my usual schoolday attire: bell bottoms and a long Navy pea coat, with the occasional top hat.

Tony had stood up and spat out his snuff. "Yeah," he said, rolling up his sleeves with shaking hands. "So, you wanna fight?" I think that he thought his friends expected this of him.

His voice broke on the word "fight." I took it to mean that he didn't want to. He was a pretty skinny guy, taller than me, but skinny. He looked so small in this context.

"No," I replied. "I don't want to fight. It doesn't solve anything, and we're both suspended for a week if we get caught. And there's Keesler," I added, pointing at one of the "assistant principals" that roamed the campus. He was looking right at us from about 50 yards away.

"Besides," I said, "one of us could get hurt bad enough to have to go to the hospital." I realize now that he took this to be intimidation. I was talking about me. My older brother had been in a fight at school and had had to spend two weeks in the hospital, plus a month with his jaw wired shut. Oh, he won the fight--but he lost the game, so to speak. I didn't want to show my parents that I hadn't learned that lesson.

Tony cleared his throat and said with resignation, "Yeah. You're right." Everyone's shoulders came down from around their ears. The relaxation was palpable. "Look," he continued. "I just think you dress weird. Why do you do that? It's like you're just askin' for trouble."

"Huh," I said. "I think
y'all dress weird." This brought a laugh from all of them. One of them was wearing a loud cowboy shirt with mother-of-pearl snaps that day.

So we kind of agreed to disagree. I never spoke with him again, but we'd see each other around the campus and nod with some kind of acknowledged respect. I found out later that Tony's dad had died, his mom had remarried, and that his stepfather had been beating up on him around that time--and calling him a little pussy.

Imagine that.

I don't know what your hangups are, Patriot. I think I held back because I was surprised by your attack. I didn't think that everyone would agree with me, but I surely didn't expect someone to attack me over some imagined child-raising method.

I mean, what the Hell do you know about the way I raise my kids by reading a blog post? How do you know whether I even have kids, for that matter? Maybe I'm imagining how I'd react to such a thing.

It really did happen, every bit of it. And I was met with politically correct rebuffs from the school district that I support with taxes, fundraiser participation, and volunteer time. Funny thing--nowadays, it seems to me that everything I pay for does not regard me as a customer. I'm a consumer. The grocery store's customers are the product providers that pay for premium shelf space. The television network's customers are the advertisers.

And the school district's customers are the politicians who decide how much money they get.

Look, Patriot, I don't give a rip what you think. I never did. I reacted to what you said because it reactivated an incomplete portion of my childhood. I suppose that when you read what I wrote that it reactivated something in you.

Figure it out, dude. We are citizens of the same country. Attacks like yours are a symptom of a cold war--a cold
civil war. Shutting other people up because they don't agree with you is a symptom of deep-seated hate. When the government shuts up those that disagree--that's fascism. Look into it.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Smokin' Aces

Really fashioning a weapon to get food -- I'd say that's a first for any nonhuman animal.
~Craig Stanford, primatologist and professor of anthropology at the University of Southern California, quoted in For First Time, Chimps Seen Making Weapons for Hunting

About eight years ago, a very critical production system at a major petroleum exploration firm crashed. Hard. Oracle Financials. No backups. Wouldn't come up. The individuals responsible for it had run fsck -y on it at least four times. Not mine in any sense of the word, but someone who knew someone who knew me called and offered a huge lump sum if I could resurrect it. I asked for twice what they offered, and they didn't hesitate at all.

So I took all of the vacation I had left from the job I had back then, and I went for it. It took just over twenty-seven hours, no sleep, lots of blind alleys and even more lucky breaks. More good guesses than bad ones. I became very, very well acquainted with od(1), I found out how Sun had changed the classic inode structure as of Solaris 2.6, the hard way. I got second, third, even fourth wind through the non-stop run. At one point, I really did cat > foo.c, typed in ~50 lines live, and it compiled, linked, and did what I wanted it to without further editing. Then a little later I panicked when I forgot for about 45 minutes where I'd been saving my ever-growing directory of utilities, cooked up on the spot. When I turned the final corner, when I knew I was closing in and it was just a matter of me not making any more mistakes, at least no unrecoverable ones, I stood up for the first time in hours. When I stretched, there were joints in my body that popped that I didn't even know would pop. Somehow, they knew to leave me alone. They just kept bringing more coffee, and I kept typing. The last time I pressed Enter, I stood up again and they came to watch too. They muttered, "come on, come on," like gamblers at the track with their rent money on the line.

I knew it would work by then. The last hour was a series of dress rehearsals before the performance. I actually spent a good fifteen minutes tuning the output, inventing nifty status messages, so they'd have something entertaining to look at.

After the database was up, and verified, and I was looking, feeling, and smelling like shit, I sipped bourbon with the guy whose ass really was on the line. He was self-described oilfield trash who'd gotten a few good breaks. His age spots were indistinguishable from the melanoma. We drank and smoked cigarettes in his office. I'd thought he'd be really happy that I'd put Humpty Dumpty back together again. He looked relieved, but no sign of happiness. He just looked tired, so very tired. After shooting the shit for ~30 minutes--mostly due to me asking him more questions to hear him keep croaking on, for reasons I chalk up to my borderline delusional psychosis--he thanked me, told me I was a "God damned genius," sighed deeply, and paid me in cash.

I never have shaken the feeling that I re-enabled something crooked that day. From the gleaming, climate-controlled data center, with its raised floors, the plush carpeting that started where the cubicles ended, to the people who smiled at me when I arrived and avoided me when I left, I felt unclean. I'd proven to myself and to anyone that was paying attention that I was clever and talented. When it had all come together, I remember thinking, "They can't take that away from me." Many time since then I've wished there was a way to take it back.

Oh. Smokin' Aces. Awesome flick. More surprises than obvious guesses. Buckets of blood, a little gore, moderate horrifics, and at the end, you wonder whether the guy left standing is going to do the right thing--or if there is such a thing any more.

I wonder whether I'll ever be done accepting money from people who--whether they realize it or not--are loyal to something wicked. That film got me to wondering: Is there a clean way to look into the eddying currents of the layers and layers of avarice, and to portray it in a way that will attract attention for anything besides the distraction of the same thing? Is there a way for me to express this so that it makes a difference, or would I just be amusing those who are engaged in the same insipid pursuits?

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Propaganda at My Children's Public School

Advertising is what you do when you can't go see somebody. That's all it is.
~Fairfax Cone, born 104 years ago today

One of my kids' teachers told him today that Iraqis just want to blow themselves up so they can be with God; that the WMDs were there, but hidden when we weren't looking; that Iran and Syria are supplying the weapons they're killing our troops with; that God is on our side, and that bringing the troops home before we win the war would be a sin. I got so upset about this that my wife had to reassure our son that he wasn't in trouble. He and I actually had a great conversation about history, politics, and how human beings can make stupid decisions when they're angry or upset. The school district is going to hear all about this bullshit.

My nine-year-old proudly read me the letter he wrote to the President at school today:
Dear President George W. Bush:

I am a 9 year-old, 4th grade citizen writing my complaints on this piece of paper. It an honor writing to you. I hope you think my handwriting and grammar is at its best.

Syria and Iran are giving Iran weapons and they are teaching Iraqians [sic] how to make bombs. I do not like that because Iraq is basically blowing themselves up.

You can probably send troops to Syria and Iran to try and make peace, of course after the war if we win.

Thank you for reading my letter. It is an honor for you reading my letter.
It's a good thing that my wife was there to let him know that he wasn't in any trouble, because I about went ballistic. "Where did you get these ideas???" I demanded.

"From TIME For Kids," he answered, more than a little scared. "They handed it out to us in class, to help us write the letter."

"Let me see that, that..."

"Sammy, you're not in trouble," my wife interjected.

"Yes, of course," I agreed. I took a deep breath and said, "Sammy, I'm really proud of the way you wrote this letter. I just--I don't agree with the ideas in it."

I went on to explain that there are people in Iraq who are just like us, that they've lived in their homes like we have, that they don't want to blow themselves up, and that they just want to live their lives in peace. I went on to explain that

He brought me the TIME For Kids handout, and not a single idea from the letter he wrote was in the article. There's a summary here, but it's way shorter than the article, which included a handy pie chart and geographical representation of Sunni and Shiite populations.

It's the teacher. Sammy told me what she told the class:
  • Iraqis want to blow themselves up because they believe that this is how they can be with God
  • The weapons of mass destruction were in a building bigger than a Wal-Mart, and that they were moved before we could find them
  • God is on our side
  • It would be a sin for us to bring the troops home before we win God's war
I don't have words to describe how incredibly angry I was--and am about this. I suppose that the teacher is plugged into one or more sources of this distorted crap, and that she really does believe she's doing The Right Thing in this matter. I'm very grateful for my wife's common sense, because I really felt like calling her up at home right then and there.

This is going to be tough. This teacher has been recognized multiple times by the school district, and she came up with the meta-curriculum to coach the kids to pass the No Child Left Behind tests.

So I'm calling the district tomorrow, and I'm getting a meeting. If there's not a policy to handle this [understatement in 3... 2... 1...] bullshit, there will be, very fucking soon. I think it would make an excellent topic for the next Teachers' Workday. I'd be happy to present it myself.

On the bright side, I got to have a great talk with my son. I explained that politics in the classroom is tricky, that history sometimes gets interpreted in different ways by different people. I pointed out how sometimes everyone is really sure that one thing happened, and then new evidence shows up and people realize that they were wrong. I asked him, "Who knows exactly what's going on in Iraq?"

"They do," he said. "The Iraqis."

Man, I felt proud. We talked about how human beings say things they don't mean, don't believe, don't stand by when we're upset. I'd already established with all three of my sons that anger/upset limits blood flow to the brain.

I'd like to think that I'm raising him and his brothers to be critical with important things. Like war, and politics. Fourth grade seems a little early to be teaching him to take what the teacher says with a grain of salt. Then again, they're probably telling him that you can't divide by zero.

I hope I have the presence of mind to convince the school district to cover this at every teachers' workday. It was pretty damned inappropriate to present something like this to 4th graders, in my opinion. And I'm more than a little curious as to why the January 19th issue was used, especially when several issues since then include the State of the Union address, Bush's "plan for the nation" (twice), and Condi's Middle East tour.

Surely this is just a poor decision by one person, i.e., the teacher. There just can't be a conspiracy behind this. No way. It just can't be.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Called to Action

Somewhere someone is thinking of you. Someone is calling you an angel. This person is using celestial colors to paint your image. Someone is making you into a vision so beautiful that it can only live in the mind. Someone is thinking of the way your breath escapes your lips when you are touched. How your eyes close and your jaw tightens with concentration as you give pleasure a home. These thoughts are saving a life somewhere right now. In some airless apartment on a dark, urine stained, whore lined street, someone is calling out to you silently and you are answering without even being there. So crystalline. So pure. Such life saving power when you smile. You will never know how you have cauterized my wounds. So sad that we will never touch. How it hurts me to know that I will never be able to give you everything I have.
~Henry Rollins, born 46 years ago yesterday

Isn't it funny--sometimes ha-ha, sometimes strangely interesting--what gets us out of our normal routines and into action?

I was just thinking about this blog this morning. I was inspired to start it after reading hotcoffeegirl's blog. I emailed her to compliment, said something like "gee, I've always thought about starting a blog..." and she was at once supportive and curt-and-to-the-point. "If you want to start a blog, start a blog," she said. "Don't worry about the perfect design. Don't worry that no one will read you at first." Then she offered more support. It took a few days, and if you read my first post, you'll see that it was indeed a very shaky start.

This morning I'd decided that since I hadn't posted in quite a while, and I'm feeling very busy lately, I'd just clobber the blog and call it a wash. "Maybe some other time," I remember thinking, "when I'm ready."

Well, holy crap. Someone commented on my last post as a way of commenting on a response I posted on someone else's blog. Reminds me of Djikstra's famous paper: loops and loops of spaghetti, decipherable only to the author, if anyone.

"Oooh!" I thought, "a comment!!!" So I rushed right over.

I remember meeting a black guy with a mohawk back in 1980, at Raul's, after a particularly memorable show featuring the Next, the Re-Cords, the Dicks, the Mistakes, Terminal Mind, Standing Waves--surely there were more. It was completely amazing, that atmosphere where everyone's smiling, everyone's ears are ringing--complete relatedness, that feeling that we'd all been there for something important. Maybe it was: Raul's was almost gone. I'd moved away and come back just for that show--as had several of the bands.

So we start talking, me and this outrageous-for-then-looking dude. The guy asked whether I was in a band. I said no, but somehow he knew that I'd have liked to have been in one. Then he asked whether I had a rig. I knew he meant a guitar and an amp; I answered no again. Then he asked a question that has me remember that moment for ever: What are you doing about it?

"Nothing," I shrugged. He looked at me hard for another moment, then walked off. At the time, I felt about one inch tall. I'd been called on my shit, my ambivalence. I wanted something, but hadn't taken so much as the first step toward actually doing anything about it.

That guy was Doug Pinnick. I don't believe for a moment that he was recruiting me for King's X. I think he was just expressing active interest in another person, e.g., not just bullshitting after a show.

It would be three more years before I'd get a rig together. Wouldn't you know it? I was invited to join a band at the music store.

So what are you up to, really? And what do you want to be up to? And what are you doing about it?

I keep bumping into the idea that when you do the thing, you will have the power. It's as though the very act of doing something--as opposed to talking about doing something--you get the Universe's attention. People just seem to show up with things for you to do that take you further on your way. Miracles happen. OTOH, is it so miraculous that the rest of the world is more likely to notice you doing something, rather than saying something? If it wasn't for the television screen, for example, you'd probably have no idea what Wolf Blitzer is going on about, today.

Funny thing--the guy who left the comment isn't available: no return email, nothing on google but (heh) a long-neglected blog... Thanks. You may never know what you did for me.

Monday, January 22, 2007

I Did It

What does this horde of slaves, traitors, and plotting kings want? For whom these vile chains, these long-prepared irons? What outrage, what fury it must arouse! It is us they dare plan to return to the old slavery!
~first verse of La Marseillaise

I resigned from my highest-paying gig, ever: subcontractor to a multinational outsourcer and offshorer. I was already withering from the hostile environment, commuting downtown sucks asphalt, and the last straw was the latest issue of their corporate magazine which appeared in my cubicle last week, with the cover story,
Stepping Up To The IED Challenge. Complete with flaming, melted wreckage of a Humvee.

Hey, I am all about fostering culture.
Healthy culture. If someone else wants to include chants of HOO-AH in their definition and purveyance of culture, my recommendation is "Go for it," followed smartly by, "and include me out."

As much as I'd like to be thought of as the kind of person who simply departs upon discovering a moral mismatch, I must say that I have another situation lined up. I was more than a little amazed at how quickly I found it, but it bears disclosing that I didn't resign until I found another place to land. Ontology suggests that I got another job quickly because I'd already decided to leave. My dad once advised me never to quit without first having something else arranged. I'd always wondered about that period from my childhood when he sold the house and took that weird job selling lingerie. But, I digress.

"Hostile environment" goes beyond the exploitatively ugly photo on the magazine. Despite being very well compensated, and sharpening my clustering chops , there's the stench of despair in the air, and arrogance in the spoken words. I still find it amusing that the outsourcer taking over Truly Believes that they can do the job remotely, with low-skills, low-paid bodies onsite. Not that I think this isn't possible; heck, I just completed an engagement with a behemoth mutual funds trader to design a "lights out" data center, ostensibly for disaster recovery. I wish I'd thought to take photos of the full-time employees as they found out that it was actually a proof-of-concept to outsource--and offshore their jobs. Oh, wait, I left the moment that I learned that this was the real plan, all along. After securing another situation first, of course. It's more accurate to say that I decided to leave when I realized, and yeah, I kept at it. For the money.

The hostility in my current work environment is from the full-time employees of the firm, the one who's switching IT service providers to save money. They're in big trouble, and bless their hearts, they really believe that it's all Someone Else's Fault. They remind me of Slim Pickens in Dr. Strangelove, riding the atomic bomb, yelling, "Yee-hahhhhhh...." all the way down to global destruction.

IT service providers. WTF is that, other than the commodification of yet another industry? It's so slick, without being glossy. Slimy. It makes it sound like me trying to switch electric utilities to save money, and hopefully to be treated like a customer. Reality check: It's the method for devaluing the individual, in order to scale down pay rates.

The corporate magazine photo was merely the last straw. Aside from the reactiveness of the team I've joined, there are these impromptu meetings: Someone walks up to where I'm sitting--working--and interrupts without so much as a salutation:
We need you in conference room Bravo right away. Sometimes they actually say, "Double time!" That's actually not so bad. I have military experience, it's a little nostalgic sometimes, but mostly it lands as invalidating and degrading. Well, of course I go to the conference room, where FTEs have had a meeting which was scheduled in advance, with the topic(s) made available to attendees ahead of time. They've made up their minds, and what they really want to do is to bully me into implementing some half-baked plan. The kind that indicates a severe lack of planning. There are sketches on the whiteboard, and these are waved at and occasionally elaborated upon. In at least 25% of the cases, the diagrams get significant additions as I watch.

Then comes the moment where the newly-hatched scheme has been communicated as much as it's going to be at that time, and I'm expected to agree. Silly me, I almost always think it's the time for me to share my expert opinion and/or experience. The same people become impatient--angrily impatient--before I can explain how the plan could actually work, because they realize that I'm about to recommend changing their plan. They raise their voices, they pound on the table, and sometimes they actually rant and rave in the same fashion as my 8-year-old son when he doesn't get his way.

N repeats of this in N weeks, I was already ready to move on. Then I'd get another paycheck and think, Damn, that's a lot of money. Suddenly the chronic headaches and stiff muscles seemed somehow worth it.

How did I miss that this corporation is a war profiteer? All I could remember about them was that time they brought down the dot-com domain, didn't realize it for eight hours, then tried to cover it up. If you can find anything online about this mid-Nineties debacle, please post or forward. I'm pretty good at finding text on the net, and I've just about concluded that it's all been expunged somehow. Except for the essays and interviews, of course--just no hard news to be found, any more.

I'm going to work for a much smaller concern, for a little less money and a few actual perquisites beyond free coffee, tea, and refrigerator space (cleaned out every Friday). I get to work next to someone I've worked with before, someone I admire for his honesty and straight talk.

I'll do another seven business days here, I'll do this one last trivial project which has been blown out of proportion without reasonable communication or a written plan, and then I'll whistle--no,
sing La Marseillaise on the way out.
What a Monday I'm Having

Do you folks like coffee? Real coffee, from the hills of Columbia?
The Duncan Hills will wake you, from a thousand deaths.
Dethklok jingle for Duncan Hills Coffee, Episode 1: The Curse of Dethklok

I decided to indulge in the luxury of a large cup of Starbucks (grande drip, venti cup, to the rim with half&half), at the front of my 31.2 mile commute into the heart of The City. My nearest Starbuck's purveyor is embedded in a grocery store, and when I went to pull into the column of parking spaces nearest the door, I found a Porsche Cayenne parked in the middle of the entrance. Having already committed to the turn, I just jumped the curb with my right rear wheel, found a space, and decided to let the driver know that she was in the way.

I approached the driver's side and saw a thirtysomething woman staring off into space. "Probably woolgathering while she waits for someone to come out of the store," I thought, and stood next to the window.

Nothing. My memory says that she was consciously ignoring me, but that's all I have to back up that theory. I waved and said, "Hello?" to the rolled-up window. Still nothing. I sidestepped and waved in front the of the windshield, and the window powered down.

"Yes?" Her lips moved, but she kept staring straight ahead.

"Hi. I just wanted to let you know--you probably don't realize--you're, uh, kind of blocking the way into this parking row." Could I have been more nervously over-polite?

"Okay." Still no change in expression.

I'd been a little irritated before, had resolved to be polite, but now I could literally feel the blood flow being redirected from my brain to my vital organs. I stood there, beginning to marvel at the powers of concentration it must have taken for her to almost completely ignore me. I ventured further: "Are you going to move?"

She ignored me, but I caught a slight head movement. Ah, so... a young girl, eleven or so, emerged from the store in a complete Juicy Couture outfit, carrying a Starbucks cup and the distinctive paper bag reserved for prescription medication. I started for the door to the store; clearly this interaction was over.

Then I heard the girl as she got into the car: "Sorry, Mom. The pharmacy opened late again, and they said that all they had was the generic."

I looked back to see the driver pound the steering wheel with very engaged frustration. Quite the contrast to her earlier study in stillness. "JESUS FUCKING CHRIST! What the Hell do I have to do to get real Paxil???? DAMN IT! DAMN IT! DAMN IT!!"

The driver's side window was still down, so I was able to hear the girl offer, "I got you a latte..." as the Porsche screamed out of the parking lot. Hope she didn't spill it.

I went inside, no waiting, scored some over-roasted Colombian, noticed my hand was still shaking when I poured in the heavy milk. Listened to Dethklok, full volume, all the way to the freeway.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

We Get What We Tolerate

To become truly great, one has to stand with people, not above them.

~Charles de Montesquieu, remembered for his articulation of the theory of separation of powers. Born 318 years ago today.

Response to Charles Stimson's apology for his attack on law firms representing Guantanamo detainees, in which he asserts:
Regrettably, my comments left the impression that I question the integrity of those engaged in the zealous defense of detainees in Guantanamo.

To the contrary, Mr. Stimson: Your comments leave the impression that you've made up your mind that the detainees at Guantanamo are guilty, and by extension, so is every suspect detained on charges of terrorism.

It's understandable. It would appear that you have only a hammer, and so this issue may look like a nail to you. Your obvious arrogance and disregard for the rights of these unfortunate human beings leaves us wondering whether anything more than the grace of God separates us from those unfortunate enough to be ensnared in the War on Terror.

Whether the stories about some number of the Guantanamo detainees having been turned in for a bounty are true, simple statistics dictate that some fraction of them are innocent. I understand that you're an experienced and elite jurist. You don't seem to understand that the vast majority of the citizens of these United States believe deeply in the principle of "innocent until proven guilty." Notice that many of us react accordingly to injustice in other countries who do not recognize this maxim. We claim it as our right, and we expect the rest of the world to eventually come to the same conclusion.

Yet remarks like yours suggest that our most powerful leaders do not believe as we do. Your remarks come across as very telling to us, and reinforce our fears that our Government is neither by, for, nor of the people. You will be remembered for contributing gravity to the argument that we are being led by nothing more than a cabal of disconnected elites who view us as pawns to be manipulated.

Most of us understand that we get what we tolerate. Our patience is wearing thin.