Monday, June 28, 2004

Regardless of one's political persuasion, I think fairness should be the chief political virtue.

Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter are not fair. Molly Ivins is not fair. And Michael Moore has not been fair.

"...Moore also can't seem to keep from playing the schoolyard bully, hurling spitballs for the hurtful hell of it. Much has been made of the found footage in Fahrenheit 9/11 that shows a stressed-out Bush inside a Florida kindergarten classroom the morning of Sept. 11, thinking for seven long minutes about how to react to an aide's whispered news that a second jet has struck the World Trade Center, and a terrorist war on America is underway. I think back to how confused I felt that morning, and it took a lot longer than seven minutes for me to take on board what was happening."
Peter Howell, Toronto Star

It kind of makes me wish we had footage of the seven minutes following when Michael Moore learned of the World Trade Center attack.

A lot of people who dislike Michael Moore do so because he disagrees with them. But probably more people--on both sides of the political fence--dislike him because all he offers is cheap and hypocritical cynicism. His bitter messages only tear down, without building anything new. And his cynicism is only directed at his enemies. His world is overly simplistic, all white hats and black hats, even while his conspiracy theories are overly complex.

I read two things about reactions to Moore's movie that stayed with me, one apt, the other sad. A reviewer, and I don't have the link now, said that one of his peers turned to him and said, "I hate him because he makes my arguments badly." And one moviegoer's reaction on the way out of a screening for Fahrenheit 9/11 was, "I don't even want to live in America anymore."

Here's a good test of fairness, and then I'll be done with politics. What does George W. Bush do well? What did William Jefferson Clinton do well? If you can't come up with an answer to both questions, you probably don't have much intellectual integrity in the political arena.

Friday, June 25, 2004

We trust our lives to the convention of driving to one side of a thin painted line.

Friday, June 18, 2004

I just read that Around the World in 80 Days is already a flop, on its opening day. I see some justice in that. I watched the trailer and was appalled, and found myself thinking, "C'mon Disney, this used to be a decent adventure novel."

All Disney seems able to do these days is turn things into the Disney brand name. I guess the exception was Pirates of the Caribbean, but I credit that largely to the cast. Don't go see this and encourage the ruining of literature.

Monday, June 14, 2004

"I am named, as you may have noticed, after a fruit. I'm not Jane or Sarah or Samantha: I am Peaches. This doesn't make sense to me at all."
--Peaches Geldof, 14, daughter of singer Bob Geldof

Friday, June 11, 2004

The more you learn of art, the more you begin to see the physical world as idea.

It's still just matter, but you begin to identify things like correlation and proximity and mood. You begin to see something less as a single moment just as a camera would snap it, and understand it as existing in time, flattened and interpreted by the lens of the eye and the thought of the brain, effected by direct and reflected light.

People who understand art actually see better, just as people who understand carpentry build better.

Today's roadway lesson: potholes can be big.

Happened on June 10 in Corpus Christi. The driver was okay, and is the one getting hugged.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

[more walk across Michigan excerpts]
There’s a point in the movie Lawrence of Arabia where he’s trying to cross the Aqaba desert. His friend Sherif Ali looks over to find him slumped in the saddle, barely hanging on, and not very conscious. He nudges him. Lawrence looks up, and Sherif warns him: “You were drifting.” I reached that point this afternoon. Without realizing it, I took seven hours to go fourteen miles, and that was with few breaks.

I was focused on my pains, and how difficult it was, and how hot it was. And drifting. I needed the nudge of how long it had taken me, and some time of reflection also to realize that I was drifting. Yes, I have blisters. Yes, I have aches and pains. We all do. I was spending my time worrying about whether I would be able to finish or not. The only time for that is when I am physically incapable of taking another step. If I had a gun to my head, would I be able to finish? I think so. This is what I have trained for, for weeks and months. This is what I have set as a goal for four years. I am well into the second to last day. I think there is some spark of something within my being to enable me to finish, to set aside all of the concerns about difficulty.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

If you think Moby Dick is essentially a boyish adventure story, you haven’t read it. Out of all the novels I’ve read, it is my favorite, followed by The Winter of Our Discontent The Fixer and Journey to the End of Night, among others. Here’s a couple quotes:

“…Truly to enjoy bodily warmth, some small part of you must be cold, for there is no quality in this world that is not what it is merely by contrast.”

“Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off--then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can."

The dictionary gives “hypos” as short for either hypochondrias or hypodermic needles. Since Melville was not a junkie, we’ll assume the former.

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