Tuesday, April 3, 2007
Still in flux. All is well; never fear.
What have I been up to?
This pretty much sums it up:
Still in flux. All is well; never fear.
What have I been up to?
This pretty much sums it up:
My life is in significant transition at the moment. I’m not sure what priority to assign to working on the blog. Please forgive the silence.
Becky brings up an important point in a comment to the last post:
As a regular reader of this blog, I wanted to respectfully ask you to please make a distinction between the U.S. government and the PEOPLE of the U.S. [...] Saying that the “U.S.” has no respect for the rule of law is insulting to all of the people who do not agree with these policies, who DO have respect for the rule of law, and who feel suspect about the current administration (who 48% DID NOT even vote for) and their treatment of oh…EVERYTHING.
Up front, I want to say that Becky is right and that often, I make statements about the “US” that could be understood as statements about the people of the US, when really I just meant the current government. I will try to be more precise about that in future.
I’m in something of a negative mood about US policy at the moment, though, so I would also like to make a larger and more depressing point: there is a sense in which a statement like “the US does not respect the rule of law” is not only accurate, but accurate in the only way that matters.
There is only one way in which the US can be said to act or speak with a single voice, and that’s when its government acts. This is the very function of our government: our people speak with 300 million separate voices, but on the domestic and international stage, a singular entity must act with coherent and specific will to get things done. In a very real sense, the acts of the US government are the only acts that can accurately be described as being “by the United States”. No private citizen speaks for the entire country, but our government acts in all of our names and on behalf of all of us.
Because of this, there is a demoralizingly real sense in which it is correct to say that the United States stands today for lawlessness, kidnapping, and torture. That statement, sadly, is true, because of what the United States does. Its citizens may disapprove, and the history of the country may stand in contrast to the present, but those are intangibles: the US is as the US does, and right now what the US does is not pretty.
I am not in favor of these things, and nether is Becky. Possibly, a majority of Americans, even, are opposed to them. But we do not wield the power and authority of the US executive; George W. Bush does, and he acts for all of us. The United States invaded Iraq. The United States shipped Maher Arar to Syria to be tortured and then dodged reparations in court. The United States kidnapped a Muslim preacher off the streets of Milan and sent him to Egypt to be tortured. The United States threw Yaser Esam Hamdi and Jose Padilla in a hole, cut them off from the world, and denied them due process. The United States tortured Padilla in custody until he was as docile and inert as a “piece of furniture”. The United States has repeatedly dodged the rule of law by invoking the “state secrets” privilege, moving prisoners into or out of military custody, keeping them overseas, or hiding their very existence from the outside world.
Becky, I assume, would prefer I say “the United States government” in each of these statements, and of course that would also be true, and more precise to boot. But, no entity on Earth other than our government speaks and acts in the name of The United States of America. The United States, then, as an entity in the word, stands today for lawlessness, eavesdropping, kidnapping, torture and warfare.
Becky is right, though: it’s important to remember that the US could be different, and that many people don’t like what it has come to be. We are used to thinking of the US as standing for democracy, freedom of affiliation, speech and religion, and a respect for the rule of law. The US does not stand for those things today, but it could again in the future.
We should also remember that our government is only empowered to speak as The United States of America because of the trust we put in our democratic institutions to ensure that the government’s actions reflect the will of the people. I would submit that recent events, from the election of 2000 in which the candidate receiving less votes was awarded the Presidency, to the escalation in Iraq despite massive public opposition, give reason to doubt the soundness of our country’s democratic foundations. But that is an issue for another time.
Chez Lark is on hiatus; my life is in transition, and I am spending the next week in Mexico with my family. I should have some more material to post when I get back on 2/26.
This sort of thing is exactly why my wife and I long ago vowed to utterly ignore Valentine’s Day:
Most videos on YouTube appear to be trash. I guess this makes it par for the course on the Internet. This one is kind of interesting though, if only because it seems deliberately intended as “art”?
It’s by Clemens Kogler, whom I would like to know more about, but whose website appears to be down at the moment. I’m guessing he’s German from his cached homepage.
The harder I work, the luckier I get.
– Thomas Jefferson
Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just get to work.
– Chuck Close
This story has gotten a lot of play, but let me boil it down for you:
And now, the punch line: Attorney General Mike Cox admitted in November 2005 to an adulterous relationship.
Some enterprising reporter called up Mr. Cox’s office:
Cox’s spokesman, Rusty Hills, bristled at the suggestion that Cox or anyone else in his circumstances could face prosecution.
“To even ask about this borders on the nutty,” Hills told me in a phone interview Saturday. “Nobody connects the attorney general with this — N-O-B-O-D-Y — and anybody who thinks otherwise is hallucinogenic.”
Hills said Sunday that Cox did not want to comment.
The thing is, nobody has been convicted of adultery in Michigan since 1971.
I think the worst part is these two lines towards the end:
Don’t want a girl who’ll sit there and talk too much /
Just want a doll with a lotta lotta places to touch
OK, that second line is almost certainly not what the lyrics actually are. But I’m damned if I can make out what Dean Martin is saying at 2:52.
There is a company called Meth Coffee, out of San Francisco.
I am not making this up.
I was idly paging through this interesting collection of images purporting to show the evolution of the beauty standard for women (worth a visit) and came across the often-repeated claim that Marilyn Monroe wore a size 14, along with this rebuttal:
I’ve read in a couple very reliable sources (women’s fitness magazines) that Monroe’s “size 14″ is comparable to a size 8 today, due to vanity sizing and such.
I became curious, so I looked into it further. Ever-reliable snopes.com has a good discussion of the Marilyn-wore-14 issue (a claim they present as “Marilyn Monroe wore a size 16 dress”)
So, what can we say with any certainty? We can at least establish a range of measurements for Marilyn Monroe based on the available sources:
Height: 5 feet, 5½ inches Weight: 118-140 pounds Bust: 35-37 inches Waist: 22-23 inches Hips: 35-36 inches Bra size: 36D
A woman of Marilyn’s height, at the extreme of Marilyn’s weight range (140 lbs), would probably wear a size 12 dress today (which is the same dress size listed for Marilyn in the book The Unabridged Marilyn). Perhaps at one time she did wear dresses that might have been considered size 16 (or even 18) back in the 1950s, but she almost certainly did not wear dresses equivalent to today’s size 16.
Snopes has a newspaper citation indicating that a Monroe dress that was sold at auction was found to be a British size 16, which is apparently the equivalent of an American size 12.
Nothing in the above should be taken to mean that I think it’s better for women to wear smaller dress sizes.
Well, that might be an over-reaction.
But, still — some nuts have engineered celery to grow with a hollow center so as to serve as a ready-made straw for cocktails.
Honestly — how long until out-of-control mutant giant land-dwelling, glow-in-the-dark goldfish destroy us all?
On vacation, of course. What other conclusion could you draw if a blogger goes silent from Christmas to the New Year?
I had a wonderful time, thank you for asking. For part of my vacation, the family was up at Whistler, in British Columbia, where they are enjoying record-setting snowfall. Here is an allegorical shot from the trip:
Those are a pair of brand new winter boots for the little ‘un, bought on-location in the Great White North. Playing in the snow is fun for the whole family!
Happy 2007, everyone!
I observe no religion, but the secularized public holiday of Christmas seems like an excellent excuse to spend time with family and exchange tokens of our affection. So, a Merry Christmas, or whatever you may be celebrating this holiday season, to all!
For your idle, time-wasting pleasure, I present this YouTube video:
Please compare to this Onion article headlined “It’s Not Nice To Be Smarter Than Other People”, which features such tidibits as:
I can’t think of anything ruder than people who have to be all brainy and intelligent. As my mother used to say, if you can’t say anything mundane, don’t say anything at all. She was right: It’s not nice to be smarter than other people.
I love these questions submitted to Slate’s “Explainer” column that they chose not to answer. Gee, I wonder why not…
I think “What comes after 999 trillion” is my favorite.
Sufferers of Seasonal Affective Disorder, take heart; today, December 21st, is the shortest day of 2006, which means more sun is on the way. Here in Seattle, the sun will set this afternoon at an utterly depressing 4:20PM. But tomorrow, it’s 4:21!
Also, only two more days until Festivus!