The River

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Sloe Wine (Josh):

Welcome to Alton. No love, no storms, no hurry, no revolution, no war, no epiphany, no broken windows, no days without cheeseburgers, no good music, no good monsters, not too much or too little breakfast cereal, or wind, or rain, or muscle. Welcome, and may God have mercy on your screen porch.


Saturday, September 27, 2003

Movie Night

Did I say tasseled loafers? I meant bow tie.

Jesus Christ, what a tool this guy was. Tucker Carlson. I’d never heard of him before. See, with the exception of the net, I’ve grown increasingly unplugged. Anyway, I turn on the tube tonight. I had a movie but it wasn’t doin it for me. I’m kinda outa sorts anyway. The wife is away on a weekend trip, so I’m flying solo.

So I decide to look in after turning off the vid. Flip. Flip. Flip. Rick Moranis. Flip. Flip. Al Franken. Stop.

The show was Tim Russert CNBC whatever. First of all, how do people stand this shit. To get 8 minutes of decent content you have to sit through five 4-minute commercial breaks. Something like that. Seemed worse.

Anyhoo. Franken has his famous (or infamous, depending) book out, and apparently Mr. Carlson also has written a book. Lord have mercy, and I haven’t. Carlson’s is something like “I’m not partisan, just a sensible conservative, so here’s the unvarnished truth for once.” The actual title is a bit shorter, but you get the gist. Sort of a high-toned Bill O’Reilly. The “I would never lie or spin ANYTHING. Promise” song and dance.

Franken was excellent. I can’t think of one criticism. It’s not his fault that every time he had Carlson on the ropes, Russert would have to interrupt for a commercial break. It happened time and again. So he could have really slammed the sleazeball Carlson. Instead he just had him nervously adjusting his coffee mug, hair, and facial expression, sighing and shaking his head. Scoffing. Al finally had to point it out. Which was cool, because he did it in the same way that he caused the histrionics, by calmly pointing out the obvious.

Carlson’s rejoinders were tiresomely repetitive: You, Mr. Franken, are being partisan. Whereas, I myself, would never be partisan. I am very, very honest. Verily, I do say I am an honest man, so far above this, sniff…partisanship. And I wear a bow tie.

Of course, he’s counting on the fact that the sheep hammered in front of the tube won’t realize that an honest person would never take such a pure as the driven snow position.

Maybe you had to be there. It was funny. One of those strange anomalies.

Like a soldier with a rebellious streak a mile wide going through training for Vietnam. That’s the premise of Tigerland, which I watched last night (thanks for the tip and the loaner, Bert). Very tight film, one hour and 41 minutes. Ideal movie length, imho. Great performance by Colin Farrell, I think it is. Nice writing. Just well done all around. Joel Schumacher film, believe it or not. But hey, don’t condemn the reality of the present because of some preconceived notion or position of the past. That would be…ya know…less than honest.

UPDATE: FYI, Tigerland is on sale at Target for $5.99.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

In praise of a great American

He thought little and did much

He moved mountains – literally

He was better than you

He put on the show and sold the tickets

He was the ringmaster’s master

He held the keys

He cracked the whip

He never once complained

But he had influence

Carl Influence, D-Ohio

He knew stocks

And owned printing presses

Everything was leveraged

Naturally, he reached the top

He touched the sun

And never once saw the shadow beneath his feet

Tasseled loafers

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Japan Rocks

And so does this two-part post. Once there, click on "part one" and continue reading.

Welcome back Stavros.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003


i do think that iraq will one day be better...i do think that this country will enjoy basic freedoms...and i hope they will be able to take advantage of them...with out intervention from any outside source...they deserve it...because they are not all terrorists/freedom fighters/militants/what ever...they are people...and they hurt...and they worry...and they sweat...and they work...and they provide as best they can...that's what we do...all of us...

and maybe that is why the 'micro' problems hurt me so...because i see i've never seen before...the blinders are off...the eyes are heart is open...gut wrenching...and horrible...a problem we caused...that we have to end...and i what many more will many more will many more will feel the unquenched disbelief at this new situation...this situation that isn't exactly panning out like we might have imagined...i here the small arms fire...i feel the explosions...the 'micro' has slapped me in the face everyday that i woke up has affected will continue to affect for the rest of my life...i know all to well that people...iraqis...and americans...are dying everyday...i see the smoke from the car bombs...i feel the hurt in my heart...

they are dying here...these

i have felt...on a few extreme relief...a overwhelming peace...a mind-blowing simplicity...i have realized in nights of thought and self reflection...that every particle...every moment...every act...and every life...that has ever existed throughout the dawning of all and everything has worked to bring this exact moment in time...and who are we to waste that...who are we to throw away such an see the other feel one another’s work for a better make good on bad decisions...


Friday, September 12, 2003

More on North Korea

Stephen Gowans continues to cover North Korea with the pen of a non-indoctrinated writer. See The End of North Korea and Washington's new approach to North Korea hardly new. If you only have time for one article, read the first one; the quote below is from the latter.
Before the overthrow of the Soviet Union, and China's slow march to capitalist restoration, regime change in North Korea was an unrealizable goal. North Korea, and its allies, were too strong.

But today, North Korea finds itself isolated, under siege, and desperately short of food and energy. With the right amount of political, economic, and military pressure, it could collapse.

And it's clear the United States is in the process of administering the coup de grace, and has been from the moment the Bush administration declared North Korea part of an axis of evil and announced policies of regime change and preventive war.

U.S. undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, John Bolton, has been Washington's point man on North Korea, along with Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly.

These days, Bolton is busy putting together an 11 country coalition to interdict North Korean shipping -- blatantly illegal, and an act of war, but part and parcel of the administration's plan for regime change in Pyongyang. [2]

The analysis I pointed to the other day ended with: "The mystery about it all is not so much what may happen, but rather what combination of ignorance, arrogance and willful stupidity on all sides has forced the situation to come to this." Gowans and the interview featured in the PBS documentary Wide Angle pointed to below, if viewed dispassionately, make it clear that it's the arrogance of the Bush Cabal that will likely bring back the WWII-like mass carnage they seem to thrive on.

Chris Floyd, bringing you the news every Friday:

The 2000 coup was carried out along Luttwakian lines by a small group of ideologues and elitists -- the latter drawn largely from the energy and defense industries -- seeking to advance their illegitimate aim of global domination by military force and control of the world's energy resources.

These objectives were no secret. Since 1992, Cheney, Don Rumsfeld and a gaggle of other dominionists now in power aired their plans publicly via a web of corporate-funded pressure groups. These documents -- including their chilling call in September 2000 for a "new Pearl Harbor" to shock Americans into supporting rapacious dominion schemes -- provided a blueprint that the coup-makers have followed with remarkable fidelity. The truth was there for anyone to see. But it was ignored by the dim-witted, well-wadded corporate media -- whose owners, drooling over Bush promises of mega-mergers and deregulation, were easily persuaded that the takeover "was not a threat to them."

It's dangerously naive to believe that such a gang, coming to power in such a fashion, will allow a legitimate electoral contest to take place next year. [more]

I rarely turn on the TV. But last night I flipped it on for one of those "let's see what the tube is up to" forays. The first thing that came up was a documentary on pbs about North Korea. No need to flip elsewhere. I watched in fascination. It was unbelievably sad to see a populace of some 22 million so completely restricted and brainwashed (that's not hyperbole, in Pyongyang they all have a speaker in their homes broadcasting propaganda, and that's just one Orwellian example).

The program is part of the PBS show Wide Angle, a series that documents life around the globe. They've built an interesting site to complement the show. Here's the area dealing with North Korea: link.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

A couple bloggers chat about Masked & Anonymous

What a plot huh? Uncle Sweetheart, or whatever his name was, John Goodman, tries to put on a benefit concert for the victims of state’s perpetual wars and the only performer he can get is the former counterculture singer Jack Fate, who’s not only washed up, but locked up. That’s it.

Yeah, just an excuse to rap about the state of the world. The thing I liked about M&A was that it felt like we’d written it.

Wild huh? I mean, we’re nobodies.

Well, that’s one of its themes. Who’s a somebody? Who’s a nobody? The film makes great fun of our ideas of that.

Yeah, and Bob strides, minces – how do you describe his walk? It’s odd, that’s for sure. Anyway, he moves through the film like the most unprepossessing person you ever saw.

Yeah, it was almost like he didn’t like having the camera on him, making him out to be something he’s not, i.e. a star, an “important person.”

That scene where Goodman brings the other “performers,” a handful of Great Persons Through History..

A Hall of Achievement!

Heee. Yep…. they're slated for the benefit concert and they pile into the trailer – Gandhi, Pope John Paul II, Abe Lincoln, and some others – that was hilarious.

Yeah, and later in the background we see “the Pope” eating a sandwich.

How about that scene with that strange board full of phrases, some from Dylan songs, and there’s one that says “God’s Mistake” and it’s circled in red ink with an arrow pointing to another one that says “Infomercials.”


There’s a great synopsis of the film on the official site. I like this part:
The next fellow could watch the same scene and see something altogether different. That’s how these things are supposed to work, whether you get them from a book or on a canvas or a record or projected on a screen. If everything's clicking you see some things that look familiar and others you never saw before. You might see some people you recognize and some you don't and maybe someone who reminds you of yourself.

And you get a world familiar enough to make sense, but different enough to suggest new possibilities.

Sounds about right. I like the last paragraph of that piece too: “If you can take that much away from a motion picture or a record, book or painting - then that’s a fair deal. That’s worth your time. Throw in a few tunes and a couple of good jokes and, bingo, you’re in show business.”

Those scenes with the band – worth the price of admission right there.

You know what’s weird. That joke in there, man eating chicken at the circus (and the whole thing has a circus sideshow feel), and Dylan pulls the curtain back and there’s a guy at a table with a bucket of fried chicken, munching away? I was in a meeting at work the day after we saw it, and one of my co-workers brought the boss some chicken nuggets. And he ate them during the meeting. At a table (his desk).

Well how about the fact that you just used “The Times they are a’changing” on your blog, and there’s that scene in the film with the beautiful little girl of maybe 8 or so singing it in front of Dylan a-capella.

Oh yeah, that was an amazing moment. Sung oh so sweetly by an innocent child, in the post-apocalyptic world the film creates, it’s a rare moment of beauty, and the words take on a timeless significance. “your sons’ and daughters are beyond your command. Don’t criticize what you can’t understand.”

Yep. There’s always hope. There’s always a new generation.

It was dark, absurd, but fun too. John Goodman was funny as hell.

What a bombed out world though, huh?

Lotta stuff about freedom in there too.

A popular topic in blogland.


It’s not always terribly deep, or unbelievably clever, but taken all together it’s a rather soulful rendering of the state of the world today.

Like blogland.


I like the scene where the Luke Wilson character, the good friend to Jack Fate, says, something about to hell with this crazy money making scam, “let’s get out of here, go somewhere where we can look at the earth and sky. Let’s go to the South Pacific like Gauguin.” And Goodman, who’s trying through the whole film to hold everything together -- which is perpetually threatening to fall apart -- says “Gauguin was a stockbroker!”

The whole thing had the feel of “What are you rebelling against? Whataya got?”

You know what else is funny? After the film, when we went to a bar next door with outdoor seating, and sat out with a Guinness and I wrote some notes on the film on the back of some paper I had? It was a Network Security White Paper I took out of my work briefcase. One side, White Paper, typed, stark, rigid, lifeless, other side, handwritten notes, lines uneven.

Good and evil?


Prison, freedom? Anonymous, identity? Corporate, individual?

Sorta sums it up right there, huh?

It’ll have to. I gotta go.

Wait, I just found this. It’s better than many a review you might stumble upon.


What about that use of the guitar as murder weapon?

I know. What struck me was the way The Fan character used it – it was just like Pete Townsend smashing his guitar on the ground.

Yeah, there were lots of “quotes” from the 60s, a time when there was a rage boiling over about the mendacity of the state.

And in the movie, he uses the guitar, a symbol of rock and roll that goes back to the blues (it was a famous bluesman’s guitar) on a figure representing the media. To symbolically smash the media, cut through the lies.

Won’t Get Fooled Again.

Yep, but it’s really a futile gesture.

Been fooled again and again.

Yeah, well, don’t YOU be fooled.

Like some fools.

But not these fools. In the film.


Really gotta go now.

Ok. Later…. Hey, that’s Louie, Louie.

Hee. Yep. Sure is. Rock n roll. What a force.


Is another Korean war around the corner?

Japan Inc magazine "asked FUJI TV Military Correspondent, photographer, J@pan Inc contributor and longtime Japan resident, Michael E. Stanley, to weigh-in on possible worst-case scenarios should the six-nation negotions over the Korean peninsula fail."

Here's some of what Stanley offered:

Over the last two decades, I have photographed and reported on various
aspects of the US military presence in the western Pacific region, and
have been fortunate in getting a fairly close look at the structure and
capabilities of those forces. During those years there was a sea change
in the posture of US forces –- and those of Japan –- as the threat of
the Soviet Union subsided. However, even with the emergence of a new
Russia and an effectively capitalist China, the last really "hot"
conflict of the Cold War era may be just around the corner.

The specter of a "Korean War II" has surfaced in the news in recent
months. Such a conflict is, without doubt, not only a danger to this
region -- but has a potential impact on world affairs that will far
outweigh those of recent and ongoing wars in such places as the
Balkans, Afghanistan and Iraq.


North Korea has developed its own ballistic missile arsenal, and it is
obviously a bludgeon that can be used to intimidate South Korea and Japan.
However, the sea-launched Standard SM3 and land-based Patriot PAC3 --
both US-built anti-missile systems that will be supplied to Japan’s forces
as well -- will be deployed "in theater" some time within the next year,
whether the bureaucrats admit that fact or not.

Moreover, the US Air Force’s Airborne Laser (ABL), a Flash-Gordonish
system of computer-directed anti-missile lasers mounted in a 747 airframe,
will be entering a trial phase some time in 2004. While it is still
experimental, it is useful to keep in kind the two experimental –-
and impressively successful -- E-8 JSTARS command-and-control aircraft that
were rushed into Operation Desert Storm in 1991. A missile detection and
tracking system (JTAGS) has been in place in South Korea since the 90s;
coupling it with the appearance of these two new missiles and the ABL
results in a fundamental shredding of North Korea’s "missile card."

Given the mounting pressures the Stalinist state must contend with,
along with possibility of miscalculation or overreaction on either
side of the 38th Parallel, Pyongyang may well see a case of "use it or
lose it."


Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Tales from Realist life

I never knew where I would find new contributors. One time I woke up at 3 o'clock in the morning. My radio was still on, and a man was talking about how you would try to explain the function of an amusement park to visitors from Venus. It was Jean Shepherd. He was on WOR from midnight to 5:30 every night, mixing childhood reminiscence with contemporary critiques, peppered with such characters as the man who could taste an ice cube and tell you the brand name of the refrigerator it came from and the year of manufacture. Shepherd would orchestrate his colorful tales with music ranging from "The Stars and Stripes Forever" to Bessie Smith singing "Empty Bed Blues." He edited several of his stream-of-consciousness ramblings into an article for the Realist under the title "Radio Free America."

At first, the entire office staff consisted of me. I took no salary, but I had to figure out how to continue publishing without accepting ads, so naturally I got involved with a couple of guys who had a system for betting on the horses. Although I lost all my savings, there was one blessing in disguise. At the racetrack, I bought a handicap newsletter, the Armstrong Daily, which included a clever column by Marvin Kitman. I invited him to write, and he became our consumer advocate with "An Independent Research Laboratory."

His first report, "I tried the Rapid-Shave Sandpaper Test," called the bluff of an advertising campaign when he described his personal attempt to shave sandpaper with a particular shaving cream. He also wrote sardonic pieces such as "How I Fortified My Family Fallout Shelter," on the morality of arming yourself against neighbors who didn't have a fallout shelter.


Thanks for this one, Frank.

Corporate takover -- the continuing saga

In fact, Nader says the real scandal is that the Smithsonian has sold out to corporate America.

“There's been more criticism of Catherine Reynolds [who wanted to buy the Smithsonian's name, rep, etc. for her idea of a museum dedicated to American achievers] than all these corporate contributors and donators and concessionaires that are commercializing the Smithsonian as never before,” says Nader.

But there are corporate sponsors all over the Smithsonian Museum [why "but"? that's what Nader is saying -- ed.]. The flag is sponsored by Ralph Lauren. The IMAX Theater was just renamed the Lockheed Martin Theater. The Insect Zoo is named after the founder of Orkin Pest Control. [gag]


Monday, September 08, 2003

Saw Masked and Anonymous

It was almost as good as blogging.

According to non-blogging reviewers, it's only 23 percent fresh. Michael Atkinson of The Village Voice says it's "as disinterested in storytelling as it is brimming with misanthropic speechifying" -- like that's a bad thing.

Perhaps if Michael and other reviewers were reading what I'm reading -- blogs -- they might have liked it more.

Friday, September 05, 2003

The Times They Are A'Changin

The scene is the National Mall of Washington, D.C., a public parks space and gathering spot for citizens seeking to come together to communicate common interests to their government. The time is Sept. 4, 2003, the kickoff event for the new National Football League season, sponsored by Pepsi Cola, Coors, the NYSE, and others. Advertisements, banners, placards emblazooned with company logos, “Take Pride in America”, and "Operation Tribute to Freedom" are everywhere.

A crowd of 130,000 has gathered for a free concert by Britney Spears, Aerosmith, Mary J. Blige, and Aretha Franklin, the culmination of a four-day event. A giant stage, also covered with ads, has been erected. Out strides a middle aged white man in a suit.

(Deep, resonant voice of The Announcer): Ladies and gentleman, The President
…of Pepsi Cola.

PoPeC: Thank you! Thank you! Thank you very much! Great to be here! Thank you! I’m touched! I really am! This is a great day as we gather here on the National Mall. A great day for all Americans and for Pepsi Vanilla!

(crowd roar dies down)

I am here today because I had a dream! You are here at a historic moment, because Pepsi Vanilla is bringing the dream closer than it’s ever been before.

(Odd music begins to play. Jumbotrons display digital versions of the inescapable Pepsi Vanilla banners littering the Mall. The banners begin to swirl into a spiral pattern.)

Look into my banners. You cannot look away. You are getting sleepy….sleeeeeeepeeee. You….are….a…sleep.

(an eerie quiet descends on the Mall, punctuated by an occasional baby’s cry)

Yes, I had a dream that one day the concept of citizenship would be completely obliterated. I had a dream that we could one day live in a world with cola wars as your top concern. And there’s only one way to achieve that dream, and that is to demonstrate our power over you, over your public spaces, over your very consciousness.

[George Oberlander, treasurer of the coalition, said the proliferation of structures on the Mall has detracted from its historical feel. He said that with the buildup, there can no longer be an unobstructed ocean of people like the one Martin Luther King looked down and saw in 1963 when he gave his famous speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. "It was an image burned into the mind of so many," Mr. Oberlander said. "You couldn't have that anymore."]

The NFL is a national pastime, a sporting event, but most importantly, a commercial enterprise. As such, it is THE DREAM of this great nation. The domination of one commercial enterprise over another, everywhere. It is our model, it is our pardigm, it is our religion.

And we will WIN! NO ONE has a problem with this. There is NO dissent. This is the way it is. Anyone who disagrees with this is A LOSER.

[The NFL Take Pride in America kickoff event live from the National Mall is designed to create a strong bond between the military and citizens and underscore the message that the war on terrorism is constantly being fought.]

We will bomb whomever we choose. This is good. There is nothing more powerful than the power of life and death. This is the great struggle. And we will win. Drink Pepsi Vanilla, driiiiiinnnkkk it! Everyone will drink it, in every country. It will make you immortal…and as handsome and resolute as a young soldier when photographed from below.

And it will make you as sexy as pop star Britney Spears, who is here tonight, for free, thanks to Pepsi Vanilla and the other sponsors, of which I am a board member. This is going to be an exciting, inspiring show. I repeat, an exciting, inspiring show. In….support….of…..the……war….on….terrorism.

[In between acts, the crowd saw ads for the sponsors' products, as well as public service announcements urging people to volunteer on the nation's public lands on the giant screens.]

Now you may ask, can you take pride in America without supporting our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq? NO! Why? Look at all this, feel it. Can YOU see any alternatives?

[Besides saluting the start of the professional football season, the concert will be part of Operation Tribute to Freedom, a military effort to "help Americans express their support for the troops who are coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan," said Col. Dan Wolfe.]

Remember to support our troops, take pride in our great country, and remember Pepsi Vanilla when you grab the handle of the cooler at the convenience store.

(snaps fingers)

Now enjoy this fabulous entertainment as we celebrate the kickoff of the 2003 season of the National Football League!

[Added Dean Bonham, a Denver-based sports marketing consultant: "This grand, spectacle type of event at the beginning of the season might be an excellent way to reach out and touch some of their younger fans, or potential fans and say, 'Look, we're a hip, exciting, cutting-edge sports league. Come look at how we kick our season off and what we're all about.'"]

"God Bless the U.S.A." singer Lee Greenwood enjoying freedom.

Thursday, September 04, 2003

By the way

A couple of recent posts, this one and this one, from Yule Heibel are great.

Johnny, komm, wir fressen eine Leiche...., Johnny, come, we'll feast on a cadaver, let me seal you up in my car, create a bubble, you'll never have to touch a thing, Johnny, come, I'll make sure only pre-processed stuff gets through the barrier, Johnny, come, you don't need those legs, Johnny, come, a car and a screen, a screen and a vacuum tube, Johnny, come, I'll program the remote, Johnny, come, we can tape it for later, it's as good as the real thing, safer, too Johnny, come....


You want a revolution? Move!

Frank Paynter points to an SF Chronicle columnist bemoaning the death of blogging in America. It seems since mainstream politicians are doing it, it can't be "cool" anymore.

The columnist, Jon Carroll, says:

I suppose blogs have had their day as a populist phenomenon. Democratic candidates for president have blogs now, and that's pretty much the death knell for cutting-edge status. If John Kerry has one, it's not a trend, it's an appliance.

But I think that's true only of blogs produced in the United States. In other countries, the Internet is still a revolutionary tool, a place for information censored in every other medium in the nation. Vox populi, and no pop-up ads. It's 1991 all over again.

That's right Frank, Yule, Jon. et. al. (you know who you are), as soon as Howard Dean began blogging you changed. I noticed it, but I wasn't sure what happened. Just a vague sense that you'd lost your edge. Now I know. You can't be cool anymore. Because you're engaged in a (gasp) MAINSTREAM activity. (The last two above are new, but regrettably pedestrian, friends. Check 'em out, anyway.)

People on the cutting edge won't have anything to do with computers anymore. They are so over in the U.S. What was once a populist phenomenon has been absorbed by the forces of conformity. Try as you might, you're blog posts cannot break this prison. Not anymore. It's okay. It's John Kerry's fault.

It doesn't help that everyone has added pop-up ads to their blogs. What? You haven't? Guess Jon Carroll meant the ads from commercial sites had infected you anyway.

The Internet and blogging are no longer trendy, hence they can't be interesting. No, it's an appliance. These words, for example, have about as much depth as a toaster. I'm sorry if you thought you saw anything else.

But hang on. Jon says, "Some of the best blogs are coming out of Iraq...." If the words are typed in Iraq, they can once again have life. That's Jon's thesis, it would appear from the excerpt on Frank's (crappy U.S.) blog. Hmm. I could send my rants, screeds, sensitive reflections on life in these United States, crazy flights of fancy, and sarcastic jibes to Riverbend of Baghdad Burning, get her to publish them, using, interestingly, the same blog template as me, and my blog posts will once again achieve cutting-edge status as in the days of yore (last year).

But she probably wouldn't agree. She has more important things to worry about. Like leaving her abode without getting shot at by roving criminals or jittery, trigger-happy soldiers (I wish her well). Her country is under occupation, after all, and the situation is volatile. It's still up in the air with these occupiers.

Here in the U.S., it's accepted. That must be the difference.

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Happy Birthday Eleanor

One of Leigh’s friends from her belly dancing class came over to dinner recently. She brought a friend, Mike. A nice man, he liked the music I played, Bill Frisell’s Good Dog, Happy Man. He called it authentic music.

So naturally, I liked him immediately. He’s in his 50s, works for a mortgage company. He said he could do much of his work behind a desk, but he prefers to get out and meet his clients face to face. He said he’d rather get to know them as a person, find out what they’re like, what makes 'em tick. Later he noted that one thing he really enjoyed about meeting so many people on the job was linking up people with complimentary needs and interests. He got a musician friend a job with a well-established band that way.

I have two daughters, Eleanor and Audrey. Today is Eleanor’s fourth birthday. Mike was taken with Eleanor, as most people are. Audrey is full of charm too, happy and outgoing and a natural born comedienne, but since Eleanor is older her appeal and talents are more apparent.

Mike said several times, “she’s so sweet.” But hey, aren’t all kids, when they’re behaving? I have to say, Eleanor is different. Mike, with his love of people, sensed it. It’s the combination of intellect and heart. After we’d put the kids to bed, Mike said, “she’s quiet, but you can tell she’s taking everything in. She’s always crunching.”

We read her stories everyday, she gets to watch one hour of PBS cartoons everyday; she listens to Winnie the Pooh on tape while falling asleep. I don’t want her to be so media saturated, but I don’t want her to think there’s anything wrong with enjoying these things, so I explained one night before bedtime why I thought she should try going to sleep with silence: “You hear lots of stories, in books, on TV on these tapes. That’s a lot of stories that others have written. I want you to have your own stories.” Of course it was like, ok Daddy, can you put on the Pooh tape now?

A few days later, Eleanor had “written” her first story. She wrote it with washable markers in squiggly lines across a page. She recited it to Leigh in the car twice, exactly the same. When they got home, Leigh asked her for her story again, and she told it once more exactly the same, and Leigh transcribed it, although she left out part of it this last time. It was about 150 words, and concerned an evening when her Granny and one of her uncles were over for dinner.

Today’s a big day in another way too, the first day of preschool for her and Audrey. Her teachers have often remarked on Eleanor’s smarts. At orientation, we told the Twos teachers, who have Audrey now and had Eleanor previously, that if they need to know anything about Audrey just ask Eleanor. “If we need to know anything, we’ll just ask Eleanor,” they joked.

Leigh jokes with the teachers that we no doubt have no secrets from them, but that it goes both ways. Last year, when Leigh would walk Eleanor out to the car after school, Eleanor would often remark to a Mommy heading inside for her child, “Buck (etc.) had a good day today.”

I could go on and on, like the guy at the office who has no life so he’s always whipping out pictures of his kids. But it’s her birthday, so I feel justified. She cracked us up at the dinner table the other night. She was speaking some kid gibberish, what we sometimes call Ellanese. It was unintelligible "words" followed by a clear “school.” She said it several times and it seemed to be directed at me, so I said “I don’t understand what you’re saying, You seem to be speaking Ellanese.” She said, “ I was, but I believe you understand the word “school.”



“What? What did I say? What’s so funny”

Nothing. It’s just who you are, my precocious four-year-old. One of the smartest, sweetest, most unusual kids you’ll ever meet.

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

New kid on the block aims to shake things up

This new kid is actually a collection of fine people who have made their way to the blogosphere to give voice to the voiceless -- to give a big middle finger to the fascist oppressors of freedom, stand up and yell "we're mad as hell, and we aren't going to take it anymore!" In unison, if need be. Whatever it takes to send Bush packing.

Check 'em out. Link 'em. Trade 'em with your friends.

Open Source Politics.

Open Source Politics was founded to promote active discourse among progressives. We firmly believe that the strength of every democratic nation comes from government of, by, and for its people.

Open Source Politics is an open exchange of ideas. In the true spirit of Open Source, we believe that government can best be improved through community dialogue. We are diverse; we are determined; we talk about everything that affects our lives.