Saturday, December 31, 2005

Couldn't Resist

I won my Denver vs. San Diego wager today which meant I could not resist betting on Indianapolis -7.5 home vs. Arizona tomorrow with my winnings.

An Austere Passion: 2005 Edition

Thirteen more hours and then it is the new year.

This past year, in addition to my normal reading, I read a lot of philosophy. Montaigne, Hume, Kant, Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, Heidegger, Barthes, Derrida, Lyotard, and Zizek come immediately to mind. I read far more than a dabbler’s amount of them. The reading went quickly, not because I wanted it to, but because that is the way it happened. Plus, I had read many of these writers before, so I was not completely cast adrift. I will freely admit that I did not gain much in erudition from my reading. That wasn’t my goal. I did begin to satisfy an odd curiosity.

I really did not plan on reading this much philosophy. I sort of fell into it as I do most of my reading. Reading certain blogs this past year started me on the way. They are mentioned within my bloglines listing at the side of this blog.

I discovered blogging in the summer of 2004. On this day last year, I did not plan to keep this blog. As soon as I made that decision, it became a daily ritual. I’ve enjoyed writing it even though I have badly said a lot of stupid and contradictory things in it. I think it has made me less shy. I live alone, so being less shy is probably not of much value to me.

I have this feeling I will be reading a lot more philosophy in the new year. There are a lot of interesting bloggers I read everyday who keep arousing my curiosity.

I finished reading Capital over the holiday. I’m reading Moby Dick right now. I am embarrassed to say I’ve never read it.

For someone like me, for whom books are a passion, it has been a very good year.

P. S. I learned a little about the Riemann Hypothesis and did some other things in 2005 that I liked and enjoyed. I am very fortunate to have had the opportunity.
The Planet on the Table

Ariel was glad he had written his poems.
They were of a remembered time
Or something seen that he liked.

Other makings of the sun
Were waste and welter
And the ripe shrub writhed.

His self and the sun were one
And his poems, although makings of his self,
Were no less makings of the sun.

It was not important that they survive.
What mattered was that they should bear
Some lineament or character,

Some afluence, if only half-perceived,
In the poverty of their words,
Of the planet of which they were part.

Wallace Stevens

Friday, December 30, 2005

The Material World

A cold rain is falling tonight. It's warm for this time of year.

My new year's resolution will be to appreciate the material world in which I live: the cold rain falling on a winter night, a smile, a soft comforting voice. Things like that.

This Week's Football Wagers

I had mentioned earlier this week that I might not bet on any football games this weekend. I changed my mind after looking at the spread today. Here they are.

* Denver +11 away vs. San Diego
* Chicago +4.5 away vs. Minnesota
* Seattle +5 away vs. Green Bay

* Iowa +1 vs. Florida in the Outback Bowl on January 2.

You have to be true to your school. At least according to the Beach Boys.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Super Sale

Lots of folks from out of town are in Chicago this week. That's nice. It's always fun to meet them. They will all be gone next week. I expect the recent mild weather won't hold out much longer either. That will drive the city folks into their abodes too.

A week from now downtown Chicago will be cold and empty. I can go to Water Tower Place on Michigan Avenue and have the whole place to myself. All the stuff will be on super sale. It's better than shopping at Target or WalMart and just as cheap.

Happy January 5th!

Future Time; Past Time

I think I will go shopping for a pocket calendar tonight. Something very cheap. If I see a Rita Hayworth calendar though, I am buying that no matter what the price.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

A Form of Madness

The city is enveloped in fog as often happens at this time of year. I can only see the bottom floors of the Bloomingdale Building on Michigan Avenue a couple of blocks away.

I woke well before sunrise this morning, drank my coffee, and started writing my next novel. I wanted to begin writing it yesterday morning, but I was very tired after a poor night’s sleep.

So, this morning I blew the dust from the cover of the manual typewriter, rolled a fresh sheet of paper into it, stared at it for a good long spell, drank coffee, and thought about what to write. My shoeboxes full of postcard notes sat at my feet. The postcards scribbled with notes were supposed to help me start when I got around to it. So much for grand ideas.

I reminded myself to forget about all the things the how-to-write-a-novel books tell you to do. I reminded myself to not set any limits on time or length. A novel probably should have a beginning, middle, and end. I will know I am done with the first draft when I perceive it has those three elements.

I was sitting next to a couple from New York City in Pippin’s, my local bar, earlier this year and reading the manuscript of the first draft of the last novel I wrote. The woman, slightly drunk, sitting next to me asked me what I was reading. I made the mistake of telling her. She wanted to know what my novel was about. I told her I did not know since it was not finished. She did not accept my answer. She wanted to situate it with the other novels she had read. I tried to explain to her that I had just finished making up a bunch of stuff and writing it down. What would survive after that I did not know. I could tell she was insulted and did not believe me. She finally gave up and told me about a song she had written in the middle of the night. I asked her what it was about. She never got around to telling me. She was just pleased that she had written a song once. Good for her.

I would never have taken the manuscript to the local bar except I needed to be slightly tipsy and away from sharp objects while reading it.

Early this morning, I reminded myself that I should never tell what I am writing about. It breaks the spell. Writing a novel is a form of madness. Breaking the spell means you have to start anew.

I started typing.

All I can tell you is that I will wake up early every morning and write a little of my next novel. After that, I do not know. I don’t know if I even care anymore.
Corporal Potter lets the match burn down to his fingers.

Corporal Potter: It bloody well hurts. What’s the trick?

Lawrence of Arabia: The trick is not minding that it hurts.

Lawrence of Arabia

Last Weekend's Football Results

I lost 1 and tied 1 against the spread. That leaves me at 14 wins, 13 losses, and 2 ties against the spread for the season. I have won 1 and lost none against the moneyline.

I might not bet the pros this weekend.

My beloved Iowa Hawkeyes play the Florida Gators Monday morning in the Outback Bowl. Iowa is a 2.5 point underdog right now. I think I'll bet on the Hawkeyes just to give the game that extra little kick.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005


I started listening to rock 'n roll in 1957. I never thought much of Roy Orbison when he first became popular.

One day, many years later, I cleaned the shit out of my ears and realized that he had one of the best voices and styles in all of rock 'n roll history.

Better late than never.

The Haul

Here is what I got for Christmas.

* A mega-awesome Columbia Iowa Hawkeye hooded pull over
* A Best of Roy Orbison CD
* Two DVD's: Crash and October Sky
* A really nifty Sony armband radio
* A pair of Levi button fly blue jeans
* A Barnes & Noble gift certificate
* A pizza baking stone and rack

And five tons of excellent food at my sister's.

Corporate Reform

Fred Block has an interesting paper at Longview Institute called A Strategy for Corporate Reform. He recommends implementing the Ethical Corporation to replace the Me-first Corporation.

During the past twenty-five years we have seen the return and rise of laissez-faire Market Fundamentalism. The implementation of Market Fundamentalism has been through the creation of the Me-first Corporation. The Me-first Corporation is built upon the extravagant rewarding of executives so as to motivate them to achieve good financial results in a Market Fundamentalist economy. The failures of Market Fundamentalism and the Me-first Corporation become more apparent each day.

The modern corporation is led by executives who have grown accustomed to outsized rewards and those who hope one day to take their place as leaders. The executives of these corporations view their companies as portfolios of assets to be bought and sold to generate value that translates into higher executive rewards at the expense of all other considerations such as the welfare of workers in these companies. This leads to short term thinking and a me-first attitude that excludes consideration of long term growth and denies the inclusion of other stakeholders such as employees, customers, shareholders, and the general welfare of citizens.

Block is a proponent of the Moral Economy. The Moral Economy takes into consideration the economic rights of all citizens, the rewarding of labor, protection of the environment and consumers, etc. The Ethical Corporation is part of the implementation strategy for the Moral Economy. The Ethical Corporation would be created by new state charters for corporations whose features would include these provisions:

* Executive compensation: restrict and control executive compensation
* Corporate governance: Boards would represent all stakeholders
* Corporate free speech: Employees could campaign for Board membership
* Employee rights: fair labor practices and negotiation
* Environment policies: corporate green plans
* Public health: high standards
* Global practices: extending best practices to all global operations
* Disclosure: high standards of reporting
* Enforcement: state attorney and third party enforcers

Block admits that it will be difficult to create the Ethical Corporation as a replacement for the Me-first Corporation.

One of the interesting questions is whether progressive reform is possible for the economy or whether it will take a radical type revolution to reform the economy.

There is no longer any doubt in my mind that one or the other will take place given the nature and excesses of the Fundamentalist Market/Me-first corporation approach to the economy.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Christmas 1967

It was Christmas 1967 in Vietnam. Being an fng (fucking new guy) I was assigned to guard duty during the month of December.

I marched out to my post in the rain and cold and fog on Christmas Eve. I spent the night shivering and looking from the slit in my bunker for potential attackers. I actually thought that my post might be attacked in that abysmal weather.

A month later, I would learn that the preferred method of killing me was to launch a mortar shell or rocket straight at me.

After that, I learned the meaning of fuck it.


David Hume in the first paragraph of his essay, That politics may be reduced to a science, says this.
It is a question with several, whether there be any essential difference between one form of government and another and, whether any form may not become good or bad, according as it is well or ill administered? Were it once admitted, that all governments are alike, and that the only difference consists in the character and conduct of the governors, most political disputes would be at an end, and all Zeal for one constitution above another, must be esteemed mere bigotry or folly. But, though a friend to moderation, I cannot forbear condemning this sentiment, and should be sorry to think, that human affairs admit no greater stability, than what they receive from casual humours and characters of particular men.
When you criticize the competence of government officials, you skate on thin ice. Those who idolize the people in power will grasp at any straw to prove you wrong. Those who exalt principles think you have missed the point no matter whose side you are on.

What we have in the United States is a combination of bad administration chasing bad principles. That makes it difficult to know where to start.

However, I don't think it is entirely wrong to concentrate on the competence of the governors every now and then.

Silly People

The bill of rights were ratified on December 7, 1791.

The fourth amendment to the Constitution goes like this.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, paper, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
What a wonderful sentence. Almost like poetry. But what were they thinking? How could they have been so naive?

You would almost think they were not acquainted with war.

The 26th

What's the matter with me,
I don't have much to say,
Daylight sneakin' through the window
And I'm still in this all-night cafe.
Walkin' to and fro beneath the moon
Out to where the trucks are rollin' slow,
To sit down on this bank of sand
And watch the river flow.

Wish I was back in the city
Instead of this old bank of sand,
With the sun beating down over the chimney tops
And the one I love so close at hand.
If I had wings and I could fly,
I know where I would go.
But right now I'll just sit here so contentedly
And watch the river flow.

Watching the River Flow, Bob Dylan
It's almost to go home. But first, coffee and donuts.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Another Good Thing

Calling it your job don’t make it right, Boss.

Cool Hand Luke
President Bush believes he has the right to tap my phone, read my e-mail, and monitor my Internet usage without a warrant. He could not have been more plain spoken about it during the past week.

I don’t think that is right. I hope others feel the same way.

Just as President Bush was wrong about separation of church and state, he is wrong about the guarantee and need for civil liberties.

Civil liberties are a good thing.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Go Figure

Dear Everybody,

I decided to go to Iowa this afternoon instead of tomorrow morning. I get so confused.

Have a good holiday!



Come On. Let's Play Some Baseball

Cuba says they will donate any money they make from playing in the the World Baseball Classic tournament in March to a relief fund for hurricane Katrina victims.

Major League Baseball has reapplied to the Treasury Department for another license allowing the Cuban baseball team to compete. I can't wait to hear the explanation coming from the Treasury Department should they deny another license.

Millions of dollars have already been invested in the tournament. The participation of Cuba, one of the best baseball teams in the world, would certainly make the tournament more attractive from a competitive and commercial viewpoint.

Lynn's prediction. Money will talk and win the day. Welcome Cuba baseball players.

Now, let's play some baseball.

A Naive Reaction

I read the following quotation this morning.
Reason is itself a matter faith. It is an act of faith to assert that our thoughts have any relation to reality at all.

G. K. Chesterton
I live in a material world both physically and socially. I am alive because I know how to negotiate the world by using my reason in its various forms.

Faith has nothing to do with my belief in reason. The utility of reason is so apparent and valuable that it is almost trivial to remark upon it.

Friday, December 23, 2005

This Week's Football Wagers

Here we go.

* Chicago -7 away vs. Green Bay
* Cincinatti -14 home vs. Buffalo

May the best man win. Me.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

I will own the highway

I don’t know when I will travel to Iowa for the Christmas celebration. All I know is that if I wait until Monday it will be too late.

I think I will wake at three AM on Christmas morning, drink a big mug of coffee, and leave promptly after that. It will still be dark when I turn onto Highway 30 and cross the Mississippi. The houses in the little towns along the highway will still be slumbering.

The best thing about traveling early Christmas morning is that I have the roads all to myself as if I owned them. I even have the Mississippi all my own for a few moments. It is a sort of Christmas present to myself.

After all, I am worth it.

City Snow

The snow in the city is already gray and soiled from the city atmosphere. It's better for it to melt now and spare us its ugliness.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Time to Wrestle

I am a fan of amateur wrestling. When I lived in Iowa I had season tickets to all the home matches of the University of Iowa wrestling team that dominated the college wrestling scene at the time under the leadership of the legendary wrestler and coach Dan Gable. I used to travel to the College Wrestling Championships each year no matter where they were held.

I recall a match during the Saturday night championship finals at the National Championships one year. The start of a wrestling match is supposed to go like this. The referee calls both wrestlers to the center of the mat. They shake hands. The referee blows his whistle and signals with his hand to start wrestling.

During one match a wrestler stopped at the edge of the mat and proceeded to pray for a spell instead of going to the center of the mat. After a few seconds the referee motioned the wrestler to go to the center of the mat which the wrestler promptly did.

A man, who had been sitting next to me for all three days of the tournament and who had wrestled in the National Championships at heavyweight back in the Sixties, turned to me and said, "He should have prayed before he got to the mat." I replied, "Amen, brother."

The said wrestler got beat rather badly even though he put up a good fight against a superior opponent.

I turned to the guy sitting next to me after the match and said, "You were right. He should have prayed before he got to the mat." He replied, "Amen, brother."

I loved going to those wrestling tournaments. I really should start doing it again.

The Hell With Love

You take your poetry where you find it. Such is the case with the small anthology called The Hell With Love: poems to mend a broken heart edited by Mary D. Esselman & Elizabeth Ash Velez. From the back cover:
Passionate, edgy, funny, and profound. The Hell With Love is for anyone who has ever suffered the pain of breaking up--and everyone who believes in the unique power of poetry to console and transform.

We've all been there...probably more often than we'd care to admit. Interpreted by a pair of wise and witty editors, these poems make up a one-of-a-kind collection that helps you through the classic stages of heartbreak. From John Donne to Margaret Atwood, from Pablo Neruda to Gwendolyn Brooks, here are poems that dig into the hurt and anger, poems that bring comfort and perspective, and poems that encourage you to get over your ex and move on.
That last short phrase 'move on' grates. Other than that it's a book of good poems. I won't comment on the commentary supplied to each section of the book. Some will adore them and others won't.

Here are a couple of poems from the first section called Rage.

wishes for sons

i wish them cramps.
i wish them a strange town
and the last tampon.
i wish them no 7-11.

i wish them one week early
and wearing a white skirt.
i wish them one week late.

later i wish them hot flashes
and clots like you
wouldn't believe. let the
flashes come when they
meet someone special.
let the clots come
when they want to.

let them think they have accepted
arrogance in the universe,
then bring them to gynecologists
not unlike themselves.

Lucille Clifton

Or this nice one.


I shall hate you
Like a dart of singing steel
Shot through still air
At even-tide.
Or solemnly
As pines are sober
When they stand etched
Against the sky.
Hating you shall be a game
Played with cool hands
And slim fingers.
Your heart will yearn
For the lonely splendor
Of the pine tree;
While rekindled fires
In my eyes
Shall wound you like swift arrows.
Memory will lay its hands
Upon your breast
And you will understand
My hatred.

Gwendolyn Bennett

The selections mellow a bit after the poems from the first section. Pity.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Some Folks are Having a Bad Week

The President is spending a lot of time expaining his high controversial stance on wiretapping U. S. citizens.

The hardball no comprimise approach to extending certain provisions in the Patriot Act has backfired.

The preliminary results from the Iraq Election indicate that conservative Shia coalitions friendly to Iran will control the government. Chilabi looks like he'll get shut out. Allawi looks like he won't be the player the U. S. expected him to be.

There are charges that the Iraq election was rigged by the apparent losers in the election. No surprise there though.

ID gets shredded in Dover, PA.

What's next? What will Pat Robertson have to say?

Dover Decision

The verdict is in on the Dover ID case. You can find a link to pdf file of the court's decision here. It is a 139 page document, so to get immediately to the juicy part jump to the end of the document to read the conclusion.

We have a victory for the forces who support the separation of church and state, plus an explanation of why ID is a religious belief and not a scientific theory.

Judge Jones also fends off the notion the decision was made by an activist court. He also minces no words about how the Dover School Board tried to cover their tracks and wasted their student's time and energy.

I'm stoked.

Morning Glory Pancakes and the Leopard's Spots

Edie mentions the Chinese poet Yuan Chen in a comment about one of her paintings at Annotated Life. Here is a poem by Yuan Chen taken from the excellent Crossing the Yellow River translated by Sam Hamill.


Life is lovely in seclusion
near tall pines in remote mountains.

I wander with clouds all day,
all night I follow the moon.

A world in a teapot:
fame is a silly dream.

Across the sea,
the thousand-year-old crane

lingers in the city,
but one day may return.

I have some poetry in my library, most of it bought during two periods of my life when I read nothing but poetry and went kind of crazy over it. During the first period I bought the collections of great American poets from Whitman to Plath. The second period was a time when I was crazy in love and looked for the odd book containing poems that spoke to my craziness.

A friend from a while back was fond of reminding me that a leopard never changes his spots. That’s true as far as it goes. Some spots are more visible than others though and it is difficult to predict when they will show themselves.

The poem I read today is not the same poem I read fifteen, ten, or five years ago even though the words are the same.

I was thinking about poetry last night around midnight when I went to Tempo on State Street for a stack of Morning Glory pancakes covered with strawberries, bananas, and blueberries, slathered in butter, and drenched with syrup. After I finished eating, I recalled the time back when the restaurant was El Ranchero and I would inhabit it on a Sunday afternoon to drink margaritas and study Euclid and Newton and watch the snow swirl about State Street on a cold afternoon.

I took my copy of Capital from my bag and read for a spell and drank coffee. The restaurant emptied until I was alone with my memories. I felt as though I was back at El Ranchero. It seemed as if only the book had changed over the years and not me. I was Descartes who found something of which he could be certain.

I noticed when I left the restaurant the wind was blowing from the southwest. I felt it a good sign of warmer days.

For some reason it seems important that I have gotten to sit in that warm restaurant on cold days and nights, and read a few great books. I suppose it is the ultimate haughty indulgence for me. It’s my way of flaunting my material condition. I announce to the world, “I am idle because I can afford to be idle. I can be alone because I can choose not to be alone.”

It is always a mistake to believe that one’s good fortune is caused solely by one’s ability rather than chance. The best thing that can happen to a person in life is to get lucky at the beginning and stay lucky through the end. Some of my fortune has rested happily with being content to read a good book.

And love? Why not, as long as it does not make you crazy? And if it does make you crazy, read some poems and don’t forget to cry.

But enough of these musings. Let’s have a Raymond Carver poem before closing time from his beautiful All of Us: The Collected Poems.

The Pen

The pen that told the truth
went into the washing machine
for its trouble. Came out
an hour later, and was tossed
in the dryer with jeans
and a western shirt. Days
passedwhile it lay quietly on the desk
under the window. Lay there
thinking it was finished.
Without a single conviction
to its name. It didn’t have
the will to go on, even if it’d wanted.
But one morning, an hour or so
before sunrise, it came to life
and wrote:
“The damp fields asleep in moonlight.”
Then it was still again.
Its usefulness
in this life
clearly at an end.

He shook it and whacked it
On the desk. Then gave up
on it, or nearly.
Once more though, with the greatest
effort, it summoned its last
reserves. This is what it wrote:
“A light wind, and beyond the window
trees swimming in the golden morning air.”

He tried to write some more
but that was all. The pen
quit working forever.
By and by it was put
into the stove along with
other junk. And much later
it was another pen,
an undistinguished pen,
that hadn’t proved itself
yet, that facilely wrote:
“Darkness gathers in the branches.
Stay inside. Keep still.”

I like the material world.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Avoidance, Procrastination, Shopping, and Brrr

It's cold. I think I'll take a hot shower and walk to Starbuck's for lunch to drink a tall coffee and eat a brownie. After that, I might stay at Starbuck's, write a little, drink another tall coffee, and eat another brownie.

Or I could go to Blue Agave, eat some chili rellenos, and drink a couple of margaritas.

Or I could start my Christmas shopping. Nah. Stuff will be on super sale by Friday and Saturday.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Football Wagering Results

I won 1 and lost 1 against the spread today. That leaves my season totals at 14 wins, 12 losses, and 1 tie against the spread. I have won 1 and lost none against the moneyline.

Regarding my gut shot pics today:
All that tough talk don't mean doodly squat.

Granny Hawkins, The Outlaw Josey Wales

Discussing and Teaching the Controversy

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's denial of the Holocaust is a matter for academic discussion and the West should be more tolerant of his views, Iran's foreign ministry spokesman said on Sunday.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi defended the president's remarks, which also drew a rebuke from the UN Security Council.

"What the president said is an academic issue. The West's reaction shows their continued support for Zionists," Asefi told a weekly news conference.

"Westerners are used to leading a monologue but they should learn to listen to different views," he added.

I won't create a diatribe or argument out of this quotation. It does remind me of the Intelligent Design discussion though. You know. Let's teach the controversy.

Thank you, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, for drawing a clear and visible line in the sand. Separation of church and state is a good thing.

Watergate: Then and Now

President Bush has admitted he has authorized illegal spying on U. S. citizens and will continue to do so. This came after he and distinguished members of Congress got caught with their hands in the cookie jar. This comes at a particularly bad time for President Bush as he touts the Iraqi elections and exhorts Congress to approve the Patriot Act.

That does not change the serious nature of his admission. President Bush claims he is authorized as Commander-in-Chief to do anything he wants. He's wrong.

Any government constituted as a military regime (President Bush's claim based on his defense as Commander-in-Chief, not mine) will abuse and make mistakes with their privilege when no safeguards to illegal search and seizure are in place. The provisions in the Constitution and the laws are there to protect citizens from a police state. If those in Homeland Security still can't protect America from terrorist attack after the billions of dollars thrown at them, then their competence is what at issue. That includes the President.

President Bush claims he is fighting for freedom and democracy in Iraq. He should practice fighting for freedom and democracy here at home. Until he does, he can put as much lipstick on the pig as he wants, but it is still a pig.

I remember Watergate well. Does President Bush? Is that why he admitted what he's doing right away?

No Wimp Out Sunday

I decided to get down for a couple of football wagers today. I mean, what if the Bears went to their coach on Sunday and said, "coach, we don't feel like playing today?" It would never happen. And so it is with me. If you are going to be a player, you have to get up for all the games every weekend. Otherwise, just take your marbles and go home.

And I didn't use any sissified computer system to make my picks either. Here are my wagers:

* Minnesota +4.5 home vs. Pittsburgh
* Chicago -3.5 home vs. Atlanta

I picked Minnesota because they are on a roll and find a way to win, they owe me since I've lost a kazillion bets wagering against them this year, and I am still pissed off about the time the Pittsburgh Steelers beat them in the Super Bowl back in the Seventies.

I picked the Bears because the temperature dropped to single digits last night and no southern team is going to come into frozen Soldier Field and beat the Bears defense on a day like today.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

No Football Weekend?

I didn't bet on any football games yesterday. I am going to look at my options, but if I bet now I have to pay 10% juice which I am now enthused about.

Maybe, I'll feel lucky despite the juice.

Cold, Dark, and Back to Normal

My computer works again--almost. Thanks again to Devang for turning me on to HouseCall.

I still can't get Outlook to work with my SBC/Yahoo mail, but that has been an ongoing problem I've had with Outlook for about 8 years. That raises a question though.

In the era of Web mail where the inbox sizes are 2 gigabytes or more and high speed 24/7 Internet access is it necessary to use an e-mail client? It would seem a waste of time since I am never working offline anymore. I suppose I am the last person on the planet to figure this out.

I woke at 3:30 this morning. Now it's 5:15, cold, and dark. I think I'll crawl under the covers, read some more of Capital, then take an early morning catnap.

Back in the Saddle, I think

Many thanks to Devang at The title consicous blog (that is what it's called right now) for recommending I scan my computer with HouseCall at TrendMicro. It has helped a lot.

I can't believe it is past midnight and I'm still working on this.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Going Under for the Third Time

I have been working on my computer a lot today trying to fix it. All I have managed to do is make things worse. My DSL access to the Internet is now slower than dial-up. I may not be talking to you all for a while until I get this fixed.

I just wanted to say Happy Holidays before I go under for the third time.

Day 4

Day 4 and my computer is back to being way screwed up. Something evil is on the march and I can't locate it.

I remember the advice my ninth grade physics teacher once gave me, "OK, Lynn, concentrate, look, and reason it out."

I wish I was still in ninth grade when all that was possible.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Custom Made

I could have slept with somebody tonight I have wanted to sleep with for over ten years. But I didn't. I am sure it would have been a lot of fun. Maybe, I wasn't drunk enough.

I could tell she was sad from the breakup of one of her petty romances. Tomorrow night I would just be an embarrassment to her.

Who wants to be an embarrassment when you are custom made from head to toe?

My Darned Computer

It appears as though my computer is just about back to normal after my nasty virus attack. My Outlook e-mail client is magically working again after rebooting this morning.

I am such a computer/Internet junkie. I go through withdrawal when things are not working right.

Knock wood.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Cuban Baseball Team

From Reuters: US vetoes Cuba for world baseball event
MIAMI (Reuters) - The United States has denied Major League Baseball a license that would allow Cuba to play in the inaugural World Baseball Classic next March, The Miami Herald reported on Wednesday.

The decision came after Cuban-American members of Congress urged the U.S. Treasury Department to veto the license application and asked Major League baseball to drop the Cuban team, the Herald said in a story posted on its Web site.

"There's always the option of an appeal. Major League Baseball's official position is: we want Cuba to play," Ronaldo Peralta of the MLB office in the Dominican Republic told the newspaper.

The World Baseball Classic is an 18-day, 16-team World Cup-style tournament scheduled to begin on March 3 that will bring together some of the world's best baseball players on teams representing their home countries.

It is probably better for the Cuban baseball team if they do not come to the United States. They might get arrested and sent to Guantanamo unless the promise to play for the New York Yankees.

Strike three. You can grab some bench, Treasury Department.

I started rereading Marx's Capital volume 1 this past weekend. I read it over ten years ago. My mind was not up to the task at the time. I was distracted by other things even though I did take notes on what I felt was the central argument. I still have the notes, but I'm darned if I can find them.

This time around I am enjoying the book. Marx is a very agreeable writer. I like the way he painstakingly lays out his argument. It is nice to read a book critically and at my leisure.

I've always enjoyed reading the classics. I expect I never have gotten beyond them in my thinking. I have been making lists of organized reading programs that mainly consist of classics I have read before. My beliefs and my life have changed quite a bit during the past four years. I look forward to discovering what my new reaction to certain books will be.

After I finish reading Capital, I want to reread the classic texts of political philosophy from Plato to the Twentieth Century. After that I would like to tackle political philosophy of the Twentieth Century, but I don't have a list made for it yet. I welcome suggestions.

I hope I don't die too soon. I still have many books to read.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Bad Streak

First, I screwed up a deposit into my checking account which caused me no end of problems. Then my cell phone gave out on Friday, and I had to go through three iterations with customer service to get it fixed.

But yesterday I picked up the virus from Hell. I still don't have my computer working right after lots of hours of trying to restore order. The problems are now mostly at start up and shut down. I just know there is something very evil still inside my computer. I only hope it doesn't get to my bank account and credit card information.

It is Tuesday the 13th, a very unlucky day. I think I'll wait to make my football picks until tomorrow.

At least I can still blog. And that's the important thing!

Round 3 and still not persuaded

President Bush gave his third speech of the month on Iraq. You will find the transcript at the official White House site. I note a few major problems with the speech.

President gives a short history lesson of the United States, then he says,
It is important to keep this history in mind as we look at the progress of freedom and democracy in Iraq. No nation in history has made the transition to a free society without facing challenges, setbacks, and false starts. The past two-and-a-half years have been a period of difficult struggle in Iraq, yet they've also been a time of great hope and achievement for the Iraqi people.

That was not the discussion at the beginning of the war. Remember, Mission Accomplished? There is no mention in the speech about how much longer. Experts predict 10 to 20 years more. Why get into messy details like that?

Later he says,
The terrorists affiliated with or inspired by al Qaeda are the smallest, but most lethal group. Many are foreigners coming to fight freedom's progress in Iraq. They are led by a brutal terrorist named Zarqawi -- al Qaeda's chief of operations in Iraq -- who has stated his allegiance to Osama bin Laden. The terrorists' stated objective is to drive U.S. and coalition forces out of Iraq and gain control of that country, and then use Iraq as a base from which to launch attacks against America, overthrow moderate governments in the Middle East, and establish a totalitarian Islamic empire that reaches from Spain to Indonesia.

The President tries to cash the al Qaeda terrorist chips, but he has none to cash. Zarqawi has been repudiated by Osama bin Laden. Zarqawi has no credibility within Iraq. Zarqawi cannot take control of the Iraqi government. President Bush knows this. Why is he saying the contrary?

Terrorist activity is not conducted by a well organized military force. Presenting terrorist activity that way camouflages the mistaken strategy of trying to fight terrorist activity with conventional military force rather than confront the more difficult issues and causes of terrorist activities. The terrorist who might kill me will most likely be someone who lives in my neighborhood. I might even have rubbed shoulders with him at the local bar. I am not safer because 160,000 troops are fighting in Iraq.

The President goes on to praise the Coalition Provisional Authority.
To fill the vacuum after liberation, we established the Coalition Provisional Authority. The CPA was ably led by Ambassador Jerry Bremer, and many fine officials from our government volunteered to serve in the EPA -- CPA. While things did not always go as planned, these men and women did a good job under extremely difficult and dangerous circumstances -- helping to restore basic services, making sure food was distributed, and reestablishing government ministries.

I am reminded of the famous words, "you are doing a heck of a job Brownie."

The President delivers the heart of the speech.

We've done this kind of work before; we must have confidence in our cause. In World War II, the free nations defeated fascism and helped our former adversaries, Germany and Japan, build strong democracies -- and today, these nations are allies in securing the peace. In the Cold War, free nations defeated communism, and helped our former Warsaw Pact adversaries become strong democracies -- and today, nations of Central and Eastern Europe are allies in the war on terror.

Today in the Middle East, freedom is once again contending with a totalitarian ideology that seeks to sow anger and hatred and despair. And like fascism and communism before, the hateful ideologies that use terror will be defeated by the unstoppable power of freedom. (Applause.)

That is the heart of President Bush's argument--persuade everyone, including himself, that terrorist activity is exactly like World War II. That way everyone in America has a patriotic and sacred duty and mission to blunder about the world with large conventional military force.

His premise is one that I will not grant him. There is no Normandy Beach where terrorists wait in their bunkers for the invasion. There is no Adolph Hitler who orchestrates terrorist activity.

As I have mentioned a couple of times, the President always confirms my predictions. The holiday season will be filled with tidings about the mythical World War III in which America is engaged.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Football Wagering Results

I won 1 and lost 1 against the spread this week. My season totals are 13 wins, 11 losses, and 1 tie against the spread. I have won 1 and lost none against the moneyline.

I am glad I had 9 points and Jacksonville against the Colts since the Colts won 26-18.

Alright, time to print off next week's schedule and the current standings.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

World Football

They held the drawings for the World Cup football championshiip a few days ago. The odds on the USA to win are 90-1. I think, at those odds, I'll bet $10 on them in case lightning strikes.

I get the Fox Soccor Channel on my cable hookup. I follow the sport a little but don't know much about it except what the English guys I meet at the local bar tell me. That has not deterred me from contemplating wagering on the games in the English Premier League.

Seriously, just some small wagers as a goof.

Iraqi Economic Rights

The Iraqi constitution guarantees a dazzling array of economic, social, and cultural rights.

SECOND: Economic, social and cultural rights

Article (22): 1st - Work is a right for all Iraqis in a way that guarantees them a good life.
2nd - The law regulates the relation between employees and employers on an economic basis, while keeping in consideration rules of social justice.
3rd - The state guarantees the right to form or join syndicates or professional unions. This shall be regulated by law.

Article (23): 1st - Private property is protected and the owner has the right to use it, exploit it and benefit from it within the boundaries of the law.
2nd - Property may not be taken away except for the public interest in exchange for fair compensation. This shall be regulated by law.
3rd - (a) An Iraqi has the right to ownership anywhere in Iraq and no one else has the right to own real estate except what is exempted by law. (b) Ownership with the purpose of demographic changes is forbidden.

Article (24): The state shall guarantee the freedom of movement for workers, goods and Iraqi capital between the regions and the provinces. This shall be regulated by law.

Article (25): The state shall guarantee the reforming of the Iraqi economy according to modern economic bases, in a way that ensures complete investment of its resources, diversifying its sources and encouraging and developing the private sector.

Article (26): The country shall guarantee the encouragement of investments in the different sectors. This shall be regulated by law.

Article (27): 1st - Public property is sacrosanct, and its protection is the duty of every citizen.
2nd - Regulations pertaining to preserving and administrating state property, the conditions set for using it and the cases when giving up any of the property may be allowed shall be regulated by law.

Article (28): 1st - Taxes and fees shall not be imposed, amended, collected or eliminated except by law.
2nd - Low-income people should be exempted from taxes in a way that guarantees maintaining the minimum level necessary for a living. This shall be regulated by law.

Article (29): 1st - (a) The family is the foundation of society and the state should preserve its (the family's) existence and ethical and religious value. (b) The state shall guarantee the protection of motherhood, childhood and old age and shall take care of juveniles and youths and provide them with agreeable conditions to develop their capabilities.
2nd - Children have the right to upbringing, education and care from their parents; parents have the right to respect and care from their children, especially in times of want, disability or old age.
3rd - Economic exploitation of children in any form is banned and the state shall take measures to guarantee their protection.
4th - Violence and abuse in the family, school and society
shall be forbidden.

Article (30): 1st - The state guarantees social and health insurance, the basics for a free and honourable life for the individual and the family - especially children and women - and works to protect them from illiteracy, fear and poverty and provides them with housing and the means to rehabilitate and take care of them. This shall be regulated by law.

Article (31): 1st - Every Iraqi has the right to health service, and the state is in charge of public health and guarantees the means of protection and treatment by building different kinds of hospitals and health institutions.
2nd - Individuals and associations have the right to build hospitals, dispensaries or private clinics under the supervision of the state. This shall be regulated by law.

Article (32): The state cares for the disabled and those with special needs and guarantees their rehabilitation to integrate them in society. This shall be regulated by law.

Article (33): 1st - Every individual has the right to live in a correct environmental atmosphere.
2nd - The state guarantees protection and preservation of the environment and biological diversity.

Article (34): 1st - Education is a main factor for the progress of society and it is a right guaranteed by the state. It is mandatory in the primary school and the state guarantees fighting illiteracy.
2nd - Free education is a right for Iraqis in all its stages.
3rd - The state encourages scientific research for peaceful purposes in a way that benefits humanity and it promotes excelling, creativity and the different manifestations of excellence.
4th - Private and national education is guaranteed and regulated by law.

It is inconceivable the United States would amend its constitution to guarantee individual economic rights like those guaranteed in the Iraqi constitution.

The Iraqi constitution guarantees private property rights along with economic rights for individuals and families. Framing laws that guarantee both sets of rights will ultimately mean both sets of rights will come into conflict.

Will the new Iraq become like the United States where individual economic rights such as labor, health, education, housing, old age security, children's security, women’s rights, freedom from violence, protection of the poor, and environment protection go by the wayside at the expense of property rights for entities such as corporations and the wealthy individuals who control them?

Prediction is unavoidable. Private property rights will trump economic rights given oil is Iraq’s major economic resource. The producers, refiners, and consumers of oil will call the tune.

The Iraqi constitution presents a socialist experiment without the elimination of private property. I think Marx would predict the failure of guaranteeing economic rights in the current situation. It will be interesting to see the reaction of the Iraqis after the consolidation of private property.

Predicting the future of democracy in Iraq is even more difficult with all the other cultural and religious issues at stake in the country.


Deborah Soloman interviews Peter Watson, author of Ideas: A History of Thought and Invention, From Fire to Freud, in the NYT Magazine.
Soloman: I find I seldom have ideas away from my desk.

Watson: That is because ideas come from other ideas. I used to sleep with a piece of paper by my bed. But I never had an idea in bed. The other thing I noticed is that when you are out to dinner and you have a good idea and write it down, the next day when you're sober, it's terrible.

Soloman: Perhaps if you went out less, you would have better ideas.

Watson: I think the interesting thing in life is not having an idea, but realizing it.
I always wondered if that happened to anybody else besides me.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

No Pajamas Saturday

It is haircut morning. That means I have to change out of my pajamas by 9 in the morning. Life can be so brutal.

Oh well, there's still more time to drink coffee and listen to Continuous Cool Country coming from Glasgow, Scotland on the Internet. Scotland?

Friday, December 09, 2005

Friday Football Wagering

This week's wagers are as follows.

Chicago +6 away vs. Pittsburgh.
Jacksonville +9 home vs. Indianapolis.

My bets are based on hunches. I'll probably regret not using my lucky coin this week. I don't want to use up all the magic in the coin before the playoffs.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

First Snow in Chicago

Chicago received its first accumulation of snow today. Traffic was horrible downtown as a result.

I recalled, while sitting in the local bar celebrating the annual employee appreciation Christmas Party and looking out the window at the snow, a night several years ago when the first snow storm of the winter hit Chicago. I was working in Oakbrook, a suburb 15 miles west of where I live. When I left work, I spent over an hour in traffic traveling the three miles to the highway leading to downtown. I spent about two hours traveling the last 12 miles on the expressway.

You can always find something to be happy about if you try. I was glad, without even trying, that I did not have to drive anywhere tonight in Chicago.

May all your drives be mercifully as short as possible.

Happy Tax Cut and Merry Christmas Too

The House of Representatives voted today to extend President Bush's capital gains and dividends tax cuts. The tax cuts, which will reduce tax revenue by about $56 billion over five years, comes shortly after cuts in food stamps, education, and such to the poor amounting coincidentally to about $56 billion over five years.

The Bush economic recovery, the worst since World War II, will continue to be fueled by giving money to those who won't spend it, since they don't need to, at the expense of those who would spend it, since they must.

Welcome to the ownership society. That is, if you own something. If you don't own something, then welcome to trickle down economics.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Geography, Statistics, and So Not Persuaded

I recall a quiz given to the American public around the time of the invasion of Iraq. The quiz showed that a shockingly large number of Americans could not locate Iraq on a world map. Given the grave nature of the Iraq conflict, the result is almost unbelievable. Americans do not do well on quizzes like this. You see similar results on basic science, economics, etc. literacy tests. America appears a country containing many folks with a willful lack of intellectual curiosity. The results of the geography quiz seemed particularly egregious since Iraq had been prominently featured in the news since the Gulf War.

I will freely admit that I am no paragon of erudition. It's been awhile since I've looked at the current world map. (Note to self: look at the current world map.)

I listened to President Bush's speech this morning. It is difficult for me to stay focused on what he is saying. I read too much. I read things like the Brookings Institute's Iraq Index, a compendium of statistics about the war. President Bush's vague anecdotal evidence about improvement in the conduct of the Iraq war and reconstruction doesn't impress me much. The Strategy for Victory document persuades me as little as President Bush's speeches.

The Strategy for Victory is almost totally devoid of hard statistics and metrics that would indicate a successful strategy for winning the Iraq War. A brand manager would not go into her annual budget meeting with the big boss with something as mushy as that. The meeting would be over in less than five minutes.

Some claim war is different than business. That it is. That is all the more reason not to be taken in by sloganeering, and demand some hard numbers and milestones.

I predicted during the Murtha incident that the Bush Administration would trot out the idea that if we did not defeat terrorists in Iraq, we would have to fight them in the streets of America. The Bush Administration has not disappointed me yet. President Bush's speech today reaffirms my prediction. I wish I could do as well in my football wagers.

The recent disastrous 9/11 Commission report card on Homeland Security gives the lie to concerns about fighting terrorism in the streets of America. Homeland Security spending has been highlighted by pork barrel spending since its inception. Small town America has gotten some nice new parks with the money. New York City is spending their own money on heightened security.

It mirrors the confusion of just how much has been done to improve Iraq security during the past couple of years. The Bush Administration announces that we cannot leave until Iraq is secure. A critic says, yes, security is all messed up in Iraq. The Bush Administration responds, no, we have 95 trained Iraqi battalions and tens of thousands of trained police. It is a tennis game without balls, rackets, or a net.

The result of a duly constituted government will provide the test this next year as to everyone's real intentions. I can't wait to see what happens. I see more civil war and three Iraqs on the horizon. Feel free to remind me just how wrong I am if things turn out differently. I can take it. Even somebody as skeptical as me hopes he is wrong about his most dire predictions. Winning a football wager against the home team is not always satisfying.

Just to obfuscate issues even more, the moral war idea gets trotted out every now and then--freedom and democracy and all that jazz. Critics of the war who reference deep philosophical issues and ideas about just wars get summarily dismissed as defeatist. The exigencies of the moment override the underlying goals, motives, and basic morality of the conflict. The incompetence of the Commander-in-Chief prosecuting the war trumps any meaningful discussion about moral and strategic issues.

The Bush Administration has a real problem. They are now, against their will, engaged in persuasive argumentation with not only their critics, but the American public--the same American public who could not locate Iraq on the world map before the war started. I expect folks have gotten a lot more educated about where Iraq is and much more confused about what the war is about. The reasons for the war and its continuation has become a soup du jour. Some soup looks like it might taste good, and others don't look very appetizing.

President Bush has decided to preach to the choir during the holidays. Those who might be persuaded about the need for the war are so much rabble out of doors.

As an intellectual exercise I find it interesting to put my politics aside and apply the rules of informal logic and persuasive argumentation to what President Bush says. I am so not persuaded. The Presidential election debates showed that persuasive argumentation is not President Bush's strong suit. Preaching to the choir suits his style better. The problem for President Bush is that many in the choir are choosing to become part of the rabble out of doors.

Monday, December 05, 2005


A woman in Blogland is displeased that the Indiana legislature has barred chaplains from mentioning the name of Jesus or other religious figures when delivering the opening prayer to legislative sessions. She goes on to conclude that soon religion will be banned completely and everywhere.

Her argument goes like this:

* I did not get my political way.
* My political beliefs are based on my religious beliefs.
* Therefore, people are trying to destroy my religion and religious beliefs.

There is no point in wasting words about the invalidity of the argument. One must just sigh, and try to stay warm on this cold December morning.


I started rereading Edmund Wilson's To the Finland Station over the weekend. The first paragraph:
One day in January 1824, a young French professor named Jules Michelet, who was teaching philosophy and history, found the name of Giovanni Vico in a translator's note to a book he was reading. The reference to Vico interested him so much that he immediately set out to learn Italian.
So the story begins and continues to Lenin's arrival at the Finland Station in 1917. Even though I have read the book before and remember quite a bit of Wilson's story, I read To the Finland Station like a story, as in I wonder what happens next. I know how it ends post-Wilson in 1991.

Or does it end? The book is about history and historical movements--in particular, socialism and communism. Starting with Vico we have the idea that history has movements and direction. Two questions arise. Can historical movements be predicted scientifically? Is there progress to better states of welfare and being?

One prediction about history seems seductive. The world will go about its merry way until a handful of people blow it up, and make it unhabitable for the human species. I hope it happens after I am dead. I don't want to watch it or be a part of it.

Another seductive prediction is that one political and economic system will come to dominate the politics of all nations. Pick your favorite system. Then hope for the stability promised by it even if it does not create a better state of welfare and being.

I prefer to think that the human imagination makes history radically unpredictable. All one can do is soldier on and do one's best to make things come out right. Let's not call it fatalism though. Let's call it imaginationism.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Winter Night

It's winter already. And this is a poem by Robert Frost.

An Old Man's Winter Night

All out-of-doors looked darkly in at him
Through the thin frost, almost in separate stars,
That gathers on the pane in empty rooms.
What kept his eyes from giving back the gaze
Was the lamp tilted near them in his hand.
What kept him from remembering what it was
That brought him to that creaking room was age.
He stood with barrels round him--at a loss.
And having scared the cellar under him
In clomping here, he scared it once again
In clomping off;--and scared the outer night
Which has its sounds, familiar, like the roar
Of trees and crack of branches, common things,
But nothing like the beating on a box.
A light he was to no one but himself
Where now he sat, concerned with he knew what,
A quiet light, and then not even that.
He consigned to the moon, such as she was,
So late-arising, to the broken moon
As better than the sun in any case
For such a charge, his snow upon the roof,
His icicles along the wall to keep;
And slept. The log that shifted with a jolt
Once in the stove, disturbed him and he shifted,
And eased his heavy breathing, but still slept.
One aged man--one man--can't keep a house,
A farm, a countryside, or if he can,
It's thus he does it of a winter night.

The Happy Totals

I won both my football wagers today. That leaves my season record at 12 wins, 10 losses, and 1 tie against the spread. I am 1-0 against the moneyline.

As soon as tonight's game is over with, I'll print out the standings and schedule, and start working on next week's wagers.

It's almost time for Desperate Housewives. Hooray!

Snow, Football, Thought

I woke at five AM. Since then I have been thinking and writing.

It's snowing. I reflect on how it will affect my bet on the Packers vs. Bears game today.

So much for thought and imagination.

Missed It

I read the New York Times Book Review on the Internet each day, but rarely look at what is on the bestseller list. I noticed this morning that President Carter's book, Our Endangered Values, has reached number one on the nonfiction bestseller list. The NYT has yet to review the book.

I talked about the book in a previous post. The book has resonated with the reading public. I recommend it to one and all.

I wish had explained my position about politics and religion as well as President Carter. I resolve to do better in the future.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

The Globe and Egoism

Most people believe the scientific evidence the earth is warming. The impact on the environment isn’t much doubted either. Most people agree that greenhouse gases add to the problem. Yet there are still doubters. These are people who have a vested economic interest in not reducing greenhouse emissions and such.

One basic argument for environmental restrictions is that the Earth belongs to everyone. Almost all countries have taken that stance when banding together to reduce environmental hazards. Almost everyone agrees that denying the overwhelming consensus of the world scientific opinion about environmental hazards will eventually lead to disaster.

Those who oppose environmental restrictions because it will change their preferred lifestyles don’t have a moral leg to stand on. What you see is a pure egoism that is in the end self defeating to the egoist himself.

The logic of unregulated and unrestricted market self interest isn’t often argued by those who oppose restrictions on environmental pollution. Rather, you see arguments that continue to deny or obfuscate accumulated scientific results.

And why shouldn’t those who refuse to let go of some of their most cherished self interests use this tactic? Their stance is based on pure unbridled self interest. The arguments by egoists against those who hold the global community, Earth, altruism, and universal self preservation in high regard do not look morally handsome.

The only thing to be done is to wrest political control from the egoists via arguments based on altruism and global self interest. Shaming them into admitting their moral positions is an ongoing imperative. Letting them obfuscate and deny the evidence must be shown for what it is--a camouflage for selfishness, a pure egoism that is ultimately destructive of human progress and moral development.


I'd like to thank Cuppa at Brown Betty Brew for lifting my spirits yesterday.

I almost quit Blogland about a year ago during the holiday season. I missed it though, started writing again, and I am glad I renewed my efforts. I have met many wonderful and intelligent people in Blogland.

Anvilcloud at Raindrops summarizes very well why I am glad I did not leave Blogland. (Read the whole thing here)
According to Google, we and Lynn live more than 600 miles or 16 hours apart, yet the one blogger was able to impact the other in the blink of an eye as it were. We have never met, and, in all probability we never will, yet, in some ways, I wonder if in some very real sense we, who read each other's real thoughts and feelings and comment back and forth, don't know one other more intimately than we know those around us, for the written word is immensely powerful and can be powerfully intimate. In our writings, we have at least some time to reflect upon what we say, and, so, our innerness is frequently laid more bare and open than it might be in our daily physical walks.
One of the blogs I stumbled upon when I first started blogging was Cuppa’s at Brown Betty Brew. I liked the way she wrote. I later found out we shared a mutual love of poetry and some of the same poets. Her uplifting thoughts and quotations are infectious. Via Cuppa’s blog, I found Anvilcloud’s and other blogs.

As Anvilcloud relates in his post, I was slipping into a black mood that overcomes me each holiday. I won’t try to articulate its nature since I have not figured it out.

Cuppa sent me a wonderful e-mail yesterday morning referencing some great poetry and commentary that I found very inspiring. I took her advice and read some of the poetry of my favorite poets yesterday, and a sense of balance replaced my gloomy mood.

I think Anvilcloud's comment indicates how and why Blogland tends to form itself into informal communities that span space, time, and thought.

Then there are times when someone unexpectedly comes along such as Cuppa and lifts your spirits.

Friday, December 02, 2005

The Plain Sense of Things

Many thanks to Cuppa at Brown Betty Brew for recommending I read some poetry today. It's just the tonic and curative.

Here is one by Wallace Stevens.

The Plain Sense of Things

After the leaves have fallen, we return
To a plain sense of things. It is as if
We had come to an end of the imagination,
Inanimate in an inert savoir.

It is difficult even to choose the adjective
For this blank cold, this sadness without cause.
The great structure has become a minor house.
No turban walks across the lessened floors.

The greenhouse never so badly needed paint.
The chimney is fifty years old and slants to one side.
A fantastic effort has failed, a repetition
In a repetitiousness of men and flies.

Yet the absence of the imagination had
Itself to be imagined. The great pond,
The plain sense of it, without reflections, leaves,
Mud, water like dirty glass, expressing silence

Of a sort, silence of a rat come out to see,
The great pond and its waste of the lilies, all this
Had to be imagined as an inevitable knowledge,
Required, as a necessity requires.

This Week's Pro Football Wagers

I ran an experiment before this week's point spread came out. I printed a list of of the NFL teams rank ordered by winning percentage and this week's schedule. Then by inspection of the league standings I guessed what the point spread would be for each game. The most I differed from the official point spread was two points, and that was only one game.

What that means I don't know. Maybe I should be a bookie since they make all the money. That would be a change. Making money that is.

What I do know is that I made these two wagers.

Chicago -7 home vs. Green Bay
Tampa Bay -3.5 away vs. New Orleans