The blog incarnation of the Desperado mailing list, the voice of the apocryphalypse since 1978.

Sunday, May 30, 2004

Correction of the week 

from Dan Kennedy's Media Log:

CORRECTION OF THE WEEK. If not the month. From today's Boston Globe (not online yet):

Because of a reporting error, Dr. Arleigh Dygert Richardson III, former teacher at Lawrence Academy in Groton, was described in his obituary yesterday as favoring tacky pants with tweed jackets and Oxford shirts. Dr. Richardson favored khaki pants.

Tip o' the Desperado tan galan to the ineffable JO.

posted by Tom  # 5/30/2004 12:18:00 AM

Ukiyoe on the move 

I had never heard of Ukioye, Pictures of the Floating World, before this moment, so I certainly had no idea that some of these art works had been given the Flash animation treatment.

Prepare to expand horizons.

Kicked off by a Boing-Boing link.

posted by Tom  # 5/30/2004 12:12:00 AM

Saturday, May 29, 2004

Just who is the America-hater here? Hint: not Al Gore 

The Boston Herald joined in enthusiastically in piling on Al Gore's speech attacking the Bush Administration, as might be expected. The money quote:

How dare Gore say that Americans have an "innate vulnerability to temptation...to use power to abuse others." And that our own "internal system of checks and balances cannot be relied upon" to curb such abuse.

Those America-hating liberals, at it again.

Inspired by a Reason magazine's take on what it called "the GOP echo chamber in high dudgeon" (under the title Patriotic Gore), I fired off another of my letters to the editor:

The phrase from Al Gore's eloquent speech that you quote so disapprovingly and so out of context, about our "innate vulnerability to temptation" is straight out of the Federalist Papers. It is ignorant and corrupt partisanship to quote so selectively, movie-poster style.

Gore's remarks were profoundly conservative:

"Our founders were insightful students of human nature. They feared the abuse of power because they understood that every human being has not only 'better angels' in his nature, but also an innate vulnerability to temptation -- especially the temptation to abuse power over others.

"Our founders understood full well that a system of checks and balances is needed in our constitution because every human being lives with an internal system of checks and balances that cannot be relied upon to produce virtue if they are allowed to attain an unhealthy degree of power over their fellow citizens."

If you truly disagree with this, then you disagree with one of the basic principles of our democratic republic.

They won't print it, I'm sure, too incisive on the one hand, too long on the other.

I have had letters in both Boston papers and I really love being in a two-newspaper town. Unfortunately, they both stink a bit about the head.

The Herald has great breaking news coverage, great comics, great sports pages, better critics than non-readers think, one truly great columnist in Peter Gelzinis, a damn fine business editor in Cosmo Macero, with plenty of pics of scantily clad gals, superior gossip and celebrity coverage, and a contemptible editorial policy.

The Boston Globe, on the other hand, has good feature stories and cultural coverage, good sports and comics, more complete news coverage, no fun (all the scantily clad gals are in the Globe's extensive underwear ads), and an equally contemptible editorial policy.

The Wall Street Journal, my third daily paper, has an editorial policy even more contemptible, balanced by some of the best news coverage in the world, including many scoops on the Iraq failure. Neither the Globe nor the Herald has managed to do any breakthrough reporting on the developing crisis of the 21st century.

posted by Tom  # 5/29/2004 09:10:00 PM

Friday, May 28, 2004

Cognitive Dissonance 

Dummranger imagines a car with two bumper stickers:

Ted Kennedy's Oldsmobile killed more people than my gun.


George W. Bush's war killed more people than Ted Kennedy's Oldsmobile.

posted by Tom  # 5/28/2004 09:03:00 PM

Go east, young man 

When enterprises fail, they go south, unless they go north, or go west. The one thing they never do is go east.

posted by Tom  # 5/28/2004 11:55:00 AM

Would that be *next* Easter? 

Last time I checked, Desperado's Google banner ads were for RadicalRadio and Plan of Attack, the current Woodward. Fair enough, I suppose, but I won't really be happy until I see some ads for comic books, gardening, or literary fantasy camps up there.

In the meantime, over at the Jesus' General blog, where General J.C. Christian holds forth on all topics manly and worshipful, the lead ad is:

Have a Happy Easter

Jesus Loves You and Wants You To Be Happy! Order Some Prozac Online

posted by Tom  # 5/28/2004 11:28:00 AM

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Tarnsman of Ghor  

Not exactly Tarnsman, but Scott Reiniger, who has a appeared in two separate Dawn of the Dead movies, is a Prince of Ghor and descendant of Kipling's model for The Man Who Would Be King.

Here's the BBC story on this extraordinary confluence of cinematic influences, in which Reiniger expresses complete surprise to learn of the Afghan exploits of his great great great grandfather, Josiah Harlan, the first American in Afghanistan, who went there expressly to be made a king, though he only got to Prince of Ghor, a heritable title.

Reiniger's recent statements to the contrary, the Ghor connection appears to be old hat to the International Movie Data Base, which off-handedly states "Is the King of Ghor, an ancient province of Afganistan" in its biography.

FWIW, Reiniger has apparently done more consulting about acting than he has actually acted.

If you do not know what a Tarnsman is, I will do you the favor of not telling you.

posted by Tom  # 5/27/2004 02:26:00 PM

Richard Clarke flew the Bin Ladens out on September 12 

Instapundit is in the bag, Kaus is a dope, Drudge is shallow, so I've been reading RealClearPolitics to keep up with what a demi-responsible rightwinger might have to say about the world. The current entry concerning Richard Clarke states that he was responsible for bundling all the Bin Ladens up on September 12, 2001, and bustling them out of the country, and no one else.

In the first place, this is contrary to what Clarke has said in the past, and in the second place, he seems to think it was a good idea then and now to fly the relatives of the man who was bragging about his successful attack on the World Trade Center out of the country when not another single non-military human was in the air.

While Clarke defends the decision, he also says he was the only one making most of the decisions that day, which raises the question, where were the people who had been elected (sort of) to make those decisions?

Me, I don't know, but I'm guessing that no one is going to come out clean when the full story of September 11 is known. I'm also guessing that it will become known and hoping that I live long enough to see it.

posted by Tom  # 5/27/2004 12:13:00 PM

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

I can't pronounce Abu Ghraib and neither can you 

I doubt if any of us really know how to pronounce Abu Ghraib, so we can hardly fault President Bush for not knowing how either. However, as number-two son points out, the rest of us have settled on some sort of a pronunciation because we have been talking about it.

It is clear that President Bush has not been talking about it. If you doubt it, go to the White House web site and run the video of the speech. Fast forward to somewhere past the 20-minute mark and wait for it: abugah-rayp, abu-garon, and finally abu-garah.

The rest of have settled on a single stumble, usually abu grabe, and stuck with it. We talk about it a lot because we are concerned that our government has practiced torture there. We don't talk about it because we hate Bush. It's torture we hate.

War is a bad business, and if there's a ticking bomb to be defused, most of us would look the other way and let the torture happen, but that does not mean we condone torture of ordinary prisoners for sport, retaliation, or domination.

The President should continue practicing saying Abu Ghraib because the storm has not abated, and when the videos are broadcast, and the pictures of torture of women are broadcast, and the list of torture prisons grows longer than a single name, and the torturer list gets higher than the buck sergeants and up into the assistant secretaries, the President will have to say the name again.

The theory of the Geneva conventions is so simple, you'd think even Bush could understand it: We don't want this to happen to our people when they are captured.

Not to mention that it is morally wrong to torture prisoners. It's in the Bible. It's called the Easter Story.

posted by Tom  # 5/26/2004 12:55:00 PM

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

"Anyone who cares about hyphens is doomed to solitary madness." 

The headline quotation is usually attributed to "an editor of the Oxford University Press".

Jim Dyer complains via mail about the latest book of grammaranality:

Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation

=v= Shouldn't "zero-tolerance" be hyphenated?

=v= Actually, double-checking myself, I find someone who amusingly feels the same way I do.


Jym's mild rejoinder is seen, raised, and squared by the someone cited.

posted by Tom  # 5/25/2004 07:36:00 PM

The FAA bet against the terrorists and lost  

Here is the testimony of Bogdan Dzakovic before the 9-11 Commision. Dzakovic was the head of the FAA Red Team , which had been created in response to the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988, and strengthened after the crash of TWA Flight 800. The Red Team's job was to test airport and airline security.

Despite considerable success in simulated attacks on aircraft and airports, the team's findings were ignored or suppressed by both the Clinton and Bush administrations.

Then the terrorists attacked on September 11, 2001, killing nearly 3,000 people. Immediately afterwards, numerous government officials from FAA as well as other government agencies made defensive statements such as, "How could we have known this was going to happen?" The truth is, they did know. What happened on 9-11 was not a failure in the system, it was a system designed for failure. FAA very conscientiously and deliberately orchestrated a dangerous façade of security, ignoring the laws cited above. They knew how vulnerable aviation security was. They knew the terrorist threat was rising, but gambled nothing would happen if we kept the vulnerability secret and didn't disrupt the airline industry. Our country lost that bet.

His testimony is concise. If there's more testimony like this, the Report of the 9-11 Commission could be a bipartisan bombshell.

Link via Center for American Progress. The testimony was given March 22.

posted by Tom  # 5/25/2004 05:43:00 PM

Cross-generational political dialogue on IRACKY 

Number one son reports on the reception of the presidential speech by the younger generation, number three granddaughter, kindergartener.

I was listening to Bush's speech while littlest was having a bath tonight:

Who's winning? (this isn't like the Red Sox honey)

Do we like him? (No sweety)

He's not on our team. What team is he on? (the Republicans my love).

We don't like them (right)

What does conflict mean? (I sort of explained what a war was, and how
Bush started one)

Why does he keep saying IRACKY? (that's where the war is)

How often do they play? (It's not regularly scheduled honey)

Six times a year? (No sweety, this one has been going on for more than a

Why does he keep saying IRACKY?

posted by Tom  # 5/25/2004 10:31:00 AM

Monday, May 24, 2004

A dimwit with delusions of shrewdness 

Another snarky columnist takes off after the President, lands a couple of good ones.

Bush: Dumb Like A Bullet

Is Dubya both a bumbling simpleton *and* a shrewd manipulator who smirked at tortures in Iraq?

posted by Tom  # 5/24/2004 02:24:00 PM

Mother's not sleepin', she's only dead 

Necrophiliacs delight! Well, actually, they're not all dead yet, and some of them don't look so much dead as like props for some Dixie drive-in Saturday night horror movie, maybe called Spiders and Snakes in the House of Wax.

At any rate, it's the
eBay Country Music Wax Museum Memorabilia Collectibles (thanks to Boing-Boing).

You must keep on scrolling through this not until you just can't stand it anymore, but far beyond, past the full-sized figures and through the wardrobe listings with many closeups of the stars.

It is hard to say which is most ghastly. Porter Waggoner and Ralph Emery look pretty much like they did in real life, but that was embalmed and dissipated. The most lifelike is Hank Williams Jr., but his face was rebuilt by plastic surgeons after a horrible fall, and I'm sure Junior would give up some of his verisimultude to improve his father's morose wax mess. Minnie Pearl, Bill Monroe, Jimmie Rodgers, Tammy Wynette, Kittie Wells could certainly make for one ferocious nightmare.

The greatest injustice is done to Buck Owens, the king of country power pop from Bakersfield, and Roy Clark, one of the greatest of all country pickers, who appear in their Hee-Haw costumes. I'm Hee! He's Haw! (No, Junior Samples, the brilliant Hee-Haw monologist, does not appear. )

This auction failed at $300,000 and is now back at 90 per cent off. All these people, real people, whose music, real music, we love. Maybe you shouldn't look after all.

posted by Tom  # 5/24/2004 12:58:00 PM

Top 10 Conspiracy Theories of 2003-2004 

Lefty site Alternet offers a list of the top ten conspiracy theories. How many do you recognize?

  1. Prior Warnings.
  2. What Was With That Handshake, Anyway?
  3. That's Our Plan and We're Sticking to It.
  4. The Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Your Liberties.
  5. The War in Iraq Is Not About Oil.
  6. Bread and Circuses.
  7. What You Gonna Do When They Come For You?
  8. Chip Me!
  9. Peak Oil and the End of the World.
  10. Life After the Fall.

posted by Tom  # 5/24/2004 11:16:00 AM

Rose-colored goggles from MicroSoft 

Reader RSL MD, offers some cyber-sociological notes:

I just opened up your Blog page, and there at the top, of course, was the
little advertisement with a couple of little Google Search buttons to click.
One of them made sense, it was "search for fubar". The other: "Search for
Chomsky". I don't have the faintest idea what in your blog made it decide
that Chomsky was a good choice for a related search, but it's pretty

Interestingly enough, I decided to run spell check on this mail, which I
never usually do, to check the spelling of "apposite", and "Google" isn't in
my MS dictionary. It suggested "Goggle" as an alternative spelling... The
mind goggles, or at least bobbles...

{It suggested "Bog" for "Blog," by the way.}

My guess is that the Chomsky link came via the Outrage Fatigue item. I've been doing too many Iraq items, I guess, it seems that the Google suggestions are almost always somewhere between the Tigris and the Euphrates.

So, MicroSoft doesn't recognize "Google". Hmm. Or "blog" (My host, Blogger, is owned by Google.) One of my very first posts here was an Emily Dickinson poem with "blog" substituted for "bog".

I've really got to start permalinking.

posted by Tom  # 5/24/2004 08:24:00 AM

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Secrecy. Background checks. Security Directives. What's going on here? 

Alaskans, who fly almost everywhere they go, are filing a suit against CAPPS II (Computer Assisted Passenger Profiling System II). The suit does not seek to stop CAPPS II, but questions the need for it, the implementation of it, and, most of all, the secrecy of it.

Here's what the four Alaskans -- two travel agents and two school officials -- have to say about their suit.

Planes Are For Flying, Not Spying.

Washington DC bureaucrats think we need their permission before we can get on a plane.

We think they're wrong. They don't understand that up here in Alaska, we use airplanes the way you use taxis.

And that's why we, a group of Alaskans, are turning to the US District Court for help.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) wants to start collecting our personal information and use it to tell us whether we can or cannot fly. This TSA program, called CAPPS II, will force us to turn over a lot of private data to the government so they can run background checks on us. They'll send the same information over to private companies and run us through -their- databases so make sure we are who we say we are.

Depending on what the computers say, you'll either be arrested at the airport or be granted the privilege of being searched by the TSA before being allowed to travel.

The TSA has already issued (or will issue) a secret Security Directive ordering airlines to turn over all their passenger records so they can test the CAPPS II system.

Secrecy. Background checks. Security Directives. What's going on here?

We think the Feds need to tell us what they're planning before they start turning every flight we take into an excuse to snoop. The TSA didn't bother responding to a letter we sent, so we're asking the US District Court in Anchorage to help us find out the truth.

posted by Tom  # 5/23/2004 08:40:00 PM

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Like no other baloney 

The H2 Hummer's slogan is

Like no other!

This is being said of a vehicle based on a standard GM light truck platform that slavishly imitates the burly military Hummer's butch sheet metal.

posted by Tom  # 5/22/2004 03:52:00 PM

Fallujah: High Tide of Empire? 

Sometimes even an isolationist crank talks sense. Another from Pat Buchanan:

Empire requires an unshakeable belief in the superiority of one’s own race, religion, and civilization and an iron resolve to fight to impose that faith and civilization upon other peoples.

We are not that kind of people. Never have been. Americans, who preach the equality of all races, creeds, and cultures, are, de facto, poor imperialists. When we attempt an imperial role as in the Philippines or Iraq, we invariably fall into squabbling over whether a republic should be imposing its ideology on another nation. A crusade for democracy is a contradiction in terms.

There's more, also worth reading.
posted by Tom  # 5/22/2004 02:39:00 PM

Among the evangelicals 

Separation of church and state is good for state and good for church. Lots of people I otherwise agree with are contemptuous or fearful of evangelical Christians. The evangelical movement is much bigger than the religious right. I was raised a Methodist, but I quit paying attention when I was 14 or so. Still, as much as I might be put off by political religiosity, it's fine that lots of other people go to church and make a joyful noise unto the lord.

I recently attended graduation ceremonies at the Center for Urban Ministerial Education of the Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.

What did the preacher talk about? About 30 minutes.

But what did he talk about? Sin.

But what did he say? He was against it.

Not a word about abortion, gay marriage, the Rapture, prophecies of Israel, or any other supposed evangelical staples. Just a bunch of nice people sharing the peace that passeth understanding and the good news of the gospel. The sins the preacher talked about were the sins that preachers can commit, appropriate to the occasion and the audience. One of those sins was pride.

The audience was unaffectedly multi-cultural, prayers were offered in Creole, Spanish, Portuguese, and English, black and white were intermixed with no condecension or boasting from anyone, the people were positive, happy, and devoted to Jesus and his message of peace and love.

The closest anyone came to the conventional view of evangelical concerns was a testimonial from one of the female graduates: "Three years ago I was talking to these little old girls about doing drugs and turning into lesbians and now I'm graduating here and going out to serve the Lord." She said it with a merry twinkle and the audience responded with knowing chuckles.

Nothing to see here. Keep moving along. Leave these folks alone. Don't confuse them with noisy, hate-filled plate-shaking religious fakers.

posted by Tom  # 5/22/2004 12:57:00 PM

Anti-drug-war sheriff 

The Sheriff of San Miguel County is featured in a cover story from Denver's Westword.com under the headline:

The Maverick

Telluride lawman Bill Masters is no dope. So what turned him against the war on drugs?

The article describes the transformation of a hard-nosed cop into the author of
Drug War Addiction: Notes From the Front Lines of America's #1 Policy Disaster
and The New Prohibition: Voices of Dissent Challenge the Drug War

"I started looking at it differently. Just what is my role in all this? Now when parents want to know why we're not doing more about drugs, I tell them, 'Listen, if you rely on me to deal with this, you're going to be disappointed. Law enforcement has failed miserably at controlling this, and we're going to continue to fail.'"

Link via Reason Magazine.
posted by Tom  # 5/22/2004 01:24:00 AM

Friday, May 21, 2004

Saluki, greyhound: doggy; sharpei, Peke, shih tzu: wolfy  

Genetic researchers like dogs too.

They found four breed clusters. Three were modern - probably dating back to the official formalisation of dog breeds in the 19th Century - but the fourth was out on an ancient limb.

The team were surprised to find such a diversity of breeds congregating in this group. The sharpei, Pekingese, shih tzu and Siberian husky all showed the closest genetic relationship to the wolf ancestor of dogs.

However, breeds that people commonly thought were very old - like the pharaoh hound, depicted on Egyptian tomb walls - turned out not to be.

The researchers think that, rather than being the "real thing", these dogs were recreated in the last couple of centuries.

Thanks, Brother Dave, for the link.

posted by Tom  # 5/21/2004 09:17:00 PM

Not only do we know where you are . . . 

We know how you vote.

Endless fun snooping on your neighbors.

I have contributed more money to campaigns this year than in my whole previous life, but it has all been in regular small contributions, mostly to candidates in Senate and House races. The majority in the Senate is only one vote. Surely . . .

posted by Tom  # 5/21/2004 11:37:00 AM

Death ray on the way 

Number two son is on a roll:

We have aircraft-mounted death rays. Available to whoever is president in 2013.


High-energy chemical oxygen iodine laser (COIL) carried aboard a modified Boeing 747-400F freighter. Capable of autonomous operation at altitudes above the clouds, the Airborne Laser (ABL) will locate and track missiles in the boost phase of their flight, then accurately point and fire the high-energy laser, destroying enemy missiles near their launch areas.

posted by Tom  # 5/21/2004 10:53:00 AM

Not only notary sojac, but also foo! 

My number two son points us all to a Smoky Stover portal displaying the ineffable charm of the surrealistic smoke eater.

In addition to Smoky links (not a sausage), the site is the spawn of Coconino Classics, Une ressource encyclopedique sur l'histoire de la narration graphique. Coconino Classics features not only comix heros like Milton Caniff and Bill Holman (Smoky's creator), but also historic avatars like Caran d'Ache, Thomas Rowlandson, and George Cruikshank.

Footnote: Coconino County is where Krazy Kat takes Tiger Tea.

posted by Tom  # 5/21/2004 10:26:00 AM

Thursday, May 20, 2004

We Know Where You Live 

Reason Magazine's June issue arrived in the homes of its 40,000 subscribers with the headline We Know Where You Live and an aerial picture of the subscriber's house circled in red. Here's a neat and complete Flash animation telling about the project.

The cranky self-proclaimed libertarian magazine argues in an associated article: Screw your privacy, this way you get the toothpaste you want.

Every time I get to feeling I might be a libertarian after all, along comes some libertarian to disabuse me. Still, Reason is well worth your time. I know I'm not anti-liberty, and there are a lot of those folks around these days who need watching.

posted by Tom  # 5/20/2004 11:15:00 PM

Let America Be America Again 

The theme for the Kerry campaign is taken from a poem by Langston Hughes. (I don't know why I didn't say so the other day, but Hughes is really my favorite in my tiny quiver of poets.)

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed--
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There's never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.")

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek--
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one's own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean--
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today--O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I'm the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That's made America the land it has become.
O, I'm the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home--
For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore,
And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa's strand I came
To build a "homeland of the free."

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we've dreamed
And all the songs we've sung
And all the hopes we've held
And all the flags we've hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay--
Except the dream that's almost dead today.

O, let America be America again--
The land that never has been yet--
And yet must be--the land where every man is free.
The land that's mine--the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME--
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose--
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,
We must take back our land again,

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath--
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain--
All, all the stretch of these great green states--
And make America again!

From The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes, published by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Copyright © 1994 the Estate of Langston Hughes. Used without permission.

posted by Tom  # 5/20/2004 09:55:00 PM

Lawyerly torture spin 

From a Guardian report on fresh prisoner abuse photos:

Guy Womack, a lawyer for specialist Graner, told ABC News the photo of his client represented "gallows humour".

posted by Tom  # 5/20/2004 01:20:00 PM

What is Rush Limbaugh? 

Rush Limbaugh is not a bottom feeder, he is bottom food.

posted by Tom  # 5/20/2004 01:20:00 PM

Alexandra the Great 

Since I have been accidentally googled into being a prime source on Alexandra Kerry's "bouncers" as Flashman would call them, I can but carry on.

In the first place, it is transparently obvious that she had no idea that the flashes would penetrate her dress and leave her on the wrong side of the one-way mirror. When starlets want to get a publicity bounce at Cannes, they just drop the top and let 'em pop. This was nothing like this.

She is a beautiful woman though, eh?

The insufferable Mickey Kaus professes to believe that the picture of Alexandra will cost Kerry votes.

Dummranger asks, "Why is that, exactly?"

The only Presidential daughter who even comes close to Alexandra Kerry on the hot-o-meter was Alice Roosevelt Longworth, and she was born in 1884.

Patti Reagan, in Playboy video and magazine spread, went all the way, but you'll have to find the links yourself. Be sure to turn off safe search. Hot-o-meter registers warm, but no heat wave. Taste-o-meter registers low.

We cannot be sure how the others stack up, but we can make some superficial observations.

posted by Tom  # 5/20/2004 12:36:00 PM

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

SNAFUBAR -- it's all the rage 

From CLIOPATRIA: A Group Blog at History News Network comes a valuable combination of acronyms to meet the needs of the current age:


I decided to invent a word: SNAFUBAR. It's a concatenation of the abbreviations SNAFU (Situation Normal: All Fouled Up) and FUBAR (Fouled Up Beyond All Recognition), both of military origin. SNAFUBAR is to be used when the situation is incomprehensibly bad for structural reasons that are likely to continue for the foreseeable future; systemic crisis, in other words. Yes, other people have thought of it, too, though I couldn't find anyone who defined it, so I'm claiming it. No, this isn't a comment on Iraq, though I wouldn't be surprised to see it popping up in the near future. Along with "Pyrrhic victory," a decidedly underused concept these days.

For its birth, the acronym was applied to nothing more monumental than the fouled-up nonhiring of a world history professor, but as Dresner says, it should prove useful in many circumstances.

posted by Tom  # 5/18/2004 11:42:00 AM

Monday, May 17, 2004

Why are my friends suddenly interested in "alternative" clothing? 

JO recommends this. The linkee has that Bill Murray glint.

Dummranger, on the other hand, is a bit breezier. Everybody here is jaunty and self-assured.

posted by Tom  # 5/17/2004 09:56:00 PM

You and your goo-goo-googly eyes 

I'm getting lots of Google hits on the April archives because it includes the phrase "Kerry's daughters" and the word "tit". Unfortunately for these seekers, the words are in consecutive blog entries.

What they're looking for is here. Warning: Janet Jackson alert! Nursing babies and Playboy readers only.

Alexandra Kerry is an actress and certainly not the first to show up looking however she wants at the Cannes film festival.

posted by Tom  # 5/17/2004 09:26:00 PM

Name-recognition still in beta 

Name-recognition software falls somewhere between astrology and artificial intelligence, but it is difficult to imagine that it can actually do any good.

Keeping in mind that Arab names can be transliterated many ways -- I once saw a Turkish photo caption showing heavyweight champion Mehmet Ali -- here are two names from the news this morning:

Member of the Iraqi council assassinated by bomb
Abdul Zahraa Othman, better known as Izzadine Saleem

Business partner of Alan Berg
Aziz Kadoory Aziz, also known as Aziz al-Taee

posted by Tom  # 5/17/2004 09:18:00 AM

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Chicken-Hawk-in-Chief, sure, drunk coke-freak, no 

This is rich.

Student says school censored political T-shirt
5/15/2004 1:05 PM
By: Capital News 9 web staff

A Williamstown, Vermont 7th grader said he was suspended from school for wearing a T-shirt that criticized President Bush.

Zachary Guiles, 13, said he wasn't allowed to go on a class field trip Wednesday because he refused to cover portions of the shirt he bought at an anti-war protest in Montpelier two months ago.

The message on the shirt calls President Bush "Chicken-Hawk-In-Chief." But Guiles said school officials didn't object to the political message. Rather, the caricature of the president included images of alcohol and drug use.

The school's dress code says students should not wear clothing that promotes the use of drugs or alcohol.

posted by Tom  # 5/16/2004 06:39:00 PM

The Cure for Outrage Fatique 

On September 12, 2001, I wrote "We are counting on George Bush to be much better than we think he is." Talk about being wrong and right in the same sentence. If you are suffering from outrage fatigue, take a look at Hal Crowther's column in this week's Independent Online:

The irreducible truth is that the invasion of Iraq was the worst blunder, the most staggering miscarriage of judgment, the most fateful, egregious, deceitful abuse of power in the history of American foreign policy. If you don't believe it yet, just keep watching. Apologists strain to dismiss parallels with Vietnam, but the similarities are stunning. In every action our soldiers kill innocent civilians, and in every other action apparent innocents kill our soldiers--and there's never any way to sort them out. And now these acts of subhuman sadism, these little My Lais.

Since the defining moment of the Bush presidency, the preposterous flight-suit, Fox News-produced photo-op on the Abraham Lincoln in front of the banner that read "Mission Accomplished," the shaming truth is that everything has gone wrong. Just as it was bound to go wrong, as many of us predicted it would go wrong--if anything more hopelessly wrong than any of us would have dared to prophesy. Iraq is an epic train wreck, and there's not a single American citizen who's going to walk away unscathed.

There is more, much more.

posted by Tom  # 5/16/2004 03:49:00 PM

Gestapo rubbish 

The following is from After You with the Pistol, a comic thriller by Kyril Bonfiglioli first published in England in 1979. The narrator is Charlie Mortdecai, a crooked art dealer who has gotten involved in an international terrorist organization:

"Mr. Ho, would you like to bring the prisoner in, please?" said the Commandant. He did not reply. I glanced at him: He was not there. I reckon that I can shift the Mortdecai carcass around fairly noiselessly but this man was quite uncanny; he was even better than old Wooster's manservant who, as is well known, used to shimmer for England.

"Mr. Ho is the Red Stick for the Woh Singh Wo in England," said Johanna hurriedly. "That's sort of, uh, enforcer." He was back in a twinkling, carrying the prisoner over his shoulder as casually as you or I might carry a beach-bag, if we were the kind of person who carries a beach bag.

"Interrogate him," said the Commandant, "but please don't make a mess. The carpet is a costly one."

"If you're going to torture him," I said, "I'm leaving."

"Probly not necessary," said Mr. Ho. "If he is professional, will know I can make him talk, will not waste our time. Most torture is crap; it amuses torturer only; makes innocent man confess to anything, makes guilty man lie, makes stupid man dead too soon. Gestapo rubbish.

"Professional torture simple.

"First, hurt very much at beginning, Most people do not realise how much pain hurts.

"Second, remove male members. Most people talk before this.

"Third, remove eyesight.

"Fourth, promise quick death. That is all. Watch."

posted by Tom  # 5/16/2004 02:57:00 PM

Rummy's Scriptwriter 

As usual, should you or any member of your I.M. Force be captured or killed, the secretary will disavow any knowledge of your existence.

posted by Tom  # 5/16/2004 01:57:00 AM

Devil's Book of Quotations, first in a series 

I have a small collection of quotations and it is time to set them free, which I will do under this heading from time to time.

Before you set your heart on something, look around you and see how happy people are who have it. -- Moody Monthly

Your toe-jam is the toothpaste of the unworthy! -- Ernest Goes to Africa

They say the student mind is a blotter; it soaks it all in but gets it backwards.

Teaching is the casting of artificial pearls before real swine.

It is hard to believe that a man is telling the truth when you know that you would lie if you were in his place. -- H.L. Mencken

For words are wise mens counters, they do but reackon by them: but they are the mony of fooles, that value them by the authority of an Aristotle, a Cicero, or a Thomas, or any other Doctor whatsoever, if but a man. -- Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan

Emerson, in his English Traits, quotes the remark of an English wit on the London sky, "In a fine day, looking up a chimney; in a foul day, looking down one."

A hopeless situation is one in which the obvious way out simply doesn't appeal to us. Nikolai Akimov, director of the Leningrad Art Theater

Little acorns from big oaks drop. Van Lane Ferguson, We Bark At Midnight

posted by Tom  # 5/16/2004 01:19:00 AM

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Saying something nice about Carl Perkins 

Carl Perkins is a national icon, one of the the greatest of white bluesmen, a hell of a picker and songwriter, and a very nice and modest person.

His anthemic song "Blue Suede Shoes" has a personal meaning for me. I'm one of those hip white southern teenagers who brought rock'n'roll out into the world. That means along with many other members of the high school class of 1958 I was there wearing pegged pants, silver keychains, and blue suede shoes when you were not even a gleam. I panicked my Mom, as I found out later, when I insisted on the blue suede shoes, since in her era only homosexuals wore them. She was greatly relieved to hear Carl's song some six months after I bought mine.

The Beatles did several of Perkins' numbers. Once, in the midst of Beatlemania, he was touring England and the Beatles invited him to a party. As he came in, he found all the folks in the foyer muttering "Is he here yet?" "When's he coming?" "I can't wait to meet him." Carl politely stood by waiting for this paragon to arrive and it was only after a long wait that someone noticed him and he suddenly discovered that it was him that everybody was waiting for.

On another occasion many years later, Carl appeared on a show with Rick Nelson. Rick, also a nice and modest man, was a bit diffident about being billed with Carl, who had been such a hero to him, and whose financial success was so much more modest than his own. (Carl was no teen idol, but he did end up with a better wig than many richer men.) Carl and Rick were in the studio at a Sun Records reunion when Carl said, conversationally, "Well, Ricky, it looks like we're the last two real rockabilly cats left." It was one of Rick's peak experiences.

I can't write about stupid political crap all the time.

posted by Tom  # 5/15/2004 02:04:00 PM

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Confluence of Interest Favors Powell Resignation 

There is no more magic moment for a politician than the moment when personal advantage and the good of the country coincide exactly. Colin Powell is a politician.

Now would be a very good time for Colin Powell to resign and tell all.

If he were to resign now and unburden himself of what he knows about the War President, he would not only remove himself from a humiliating situation and begin to restore his own reputation, but he would also make a very good start at restoring the reputation of our government.

posted by Tom  # 5/13/2004 03:45:00 PM

My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right 

The Boston Herald ran a front-page editorial today with the title, in their new dumbed down all-caps style, PROUDER THAN EVER TO BE AN AMERICAN.

The strange first paragraph:

The moral authority of the United States has never been stronger or more worthy of respect.

This is unsurpassed down-is-upism, not only is down up, it is a particularly superior kind of up that has never been seen before. It would be egregious to paraphrase the rest of the editorial, so I recommend that you read it yourself.

My own patriotism is a bit more old-fashioned, perhaps best expressed by the German-born US Senator Carl Schurz in the midst of a debate on imperialism in the Senate in 1872:

The Senator from Wisconsin cannot frighten me by exclaiming, “My country, right or wrong.” In one sense I say so too. My country; and my country is the great American Republic. My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.

According to my source, Bartleby.com this was no passing debater's spin, but a lifelong conviction:

Schurz expanded on this theme in a speech delivered at the Anti-Imperialistic Conference, Chicago, Illinois, October 17, 1899: “I confidently trust that the American people will prove themselves … too wise not to detect the false pride or the dangerous ambitions or the selfish schemes which so often hide themselves under that deceptive cry of mock patriotism: ‘Our country, right or wrong!’ They will not fail to recognize that our dignity, our free institutions and the peace and welfare of this and coming generations of Americans will be secure only as we cling to the watchword of true patriotism: ‘Our country—when right to be kept right; when wrong to be put right.’”—Schurz, “The Policy of Imperialism,” Speeches, Correspondence and Political Papers of Carl Schurz, vol. 6, pp. 119–20 (1913).

posted by Tom  # 5/13/2004 02:46:00 PM

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Ugh! Ugh! Ugh!  

Abu Musab Zarqawi, the al-Qaida terrorist behind the beheading of Nick Berg and 700 other deaths in Iraq was three times in the sights of the US Army, but they were called off by the White House three times. MSNBC has an article, written a month before the latest Zarqawi atrocity:

Military officials insist their case for attacking Zarqawi’s operation was airtight, but the administration feared destroying the terrorist camp in Iraq could undercut its case for war against Saddam.

The only actual al-Qaida link in Iran was inconveniently linked, not to Saddam, but to the Kurds. It wasn't handy to do anything about it. At that time, Zarqawi was running factories producing ricin and cyanide in Northern Iraq. Now he's gone on to beheadings. It is horrible to think, but the beheading is helpful to the "case".

I picked this up via the Reason Magazine blog. Search for "Zarqawi" for some finely honed Libertarian outrage. Stop on the way at "Hershenson" for some more torture thinking from the Republicans.

PS -- Fred Kaplan in Slate has an longer treatment. Title: The Buck Stops ... Where? Stop blaming your henchmen, Mr. President.

posted by Tom  # 5/12/2004 01:14:00 PM

Turboccino Megamocha Drink Mix 

Turboccino Megamocha Drink Mix is available at x-tremegeek.com along with all manner of other wonderful, charming or ridiculous things, Death Rain potato chips, R/C aquarium submarines, lighted USB cables, USB battery chargers, , the Book of Overclocking, the irreplaceable Power Strip Liberator Plus, many robots and R/C cars, trucks, airplanes, helicopters, blimps, speedboats, and flying saucers, and a ton of gamer/freak hardware items, some for go, many for show, clear cases, interior lights, skull-and-crossbones fan grills, virtually all for the PC, alas.

posted by Tom  # 5/12/2004 01:04:00 PM

Monday, May 10, 2004

Whatever happened to good old-fashioned frog licking? 

The war on drugs is undergoing a setback in India:

One police officer in the city of Bharuch said: "Because of our successful drives against the sellers and addicts of alcohol, opium, cough syrup and heroin in urban areas, young people are flocking on the highways to try the new craze of scorpion stings."

posted by Tom  # 5/10/2004 10:55:00 PM

Krazy Kat in 3D Animation 

This appears to be a promo for a cartoon that will probably never be made. It features Krazy Kat, Ignatz, Offissa Pup, a brick, and the jail. That is, the situation of the Krazy Kat komedy (Kat loves Ignatz, Ignatz hates Kat, Kop loves Kat, Kat thinks getting hit in the head with a brick is an expression of love, Kop disagrees, all against the wide-open and spacy spaces of Coconino County).

The 30-second clip has hoky music and a smarmy narrator. Presumably the cartoon itself would have the former but not the latter. Treating it as a silent cartoon might help, but only if you are already initiated. On the other hand, the reference to a cat box is the essence of the egregious.

posted by Tom  # 5/10/2004 09:47:00 PM

Mistah Kurtz, he still alive 

Didn't it occur to anyone that our soldiers and civilians were going to be taken captive by the locals? Even though President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld may not have known what was going on in our military prisons, you may be sure the Iraqis did.


JO asks what he calls "a (genuine, not rhetorical) question":
Every mainstream article I've read uses the term abuse. If these actions had been perpetrated by any other nation, wouldn't the same media be reporting them as torture?

I'm terribly afraid we're going to find out.

The once tough-talking Rumsfeld has suddenly gotten mealy-mouthed:
SEC. RUMSFELD: I don't know if the -- it is correct to say what you just said, that torture has taken place, or that there's been a conviction for torture. And therefore I'm not going to address the torture word.

Dummranger steps up with some alternative terms:

Freedom Tickling
Liberty Licks
Operation Enduring Conversation
Talking Points

The last is ironic, since Joshua Micah Marshall's Talking Points Memo is one of the most reliable resources on this whole appalling mess.


You know, I'm trying to keep from going wholly political here. I love doing my little observations on tools and gardening, but I've been going around all weekend with a sick feeling in my stomach.

posted by Tom  # 5/10/2004 11:34:00 AM

Sunday, May 09, 2004

The wrong tool for every job 

When you don't have the right tool for the job, there's always the wrong tool.

This is just a start (and the links are all a shuck). I hope to comb the comments for more. Original idea via my number two son.

posted by Tom  # 5/09/2004 09:38:00 PM

Saturday, May 08, 2004

Baseball folded like bent fabric 

It took Organized Baseball (having to say you're organized says something) only 24 hours to decide that maybe for chump change it would be better not to rent out the bases, pitching rubber, and on-deck circles to advertise the latest Spider-Man movie. The payoffs per club were to have been scaled down in the provinces, but, at that, the Red Sox were only going to get $100,000, so the price per base in Kansas City was probably about $450.

OB said something about fan objections. As Jackie Robinson (or was it Bill Lee) said to Rabbit Maranville (or was it Bob Veale):

Baseball must be a great game to be able to survive the people who run it.

posted by Tom  # 5/08/2004 02:25:00 AM

Sonya is single and lives in Alexandria, VA. 

My scampy friends ask, Why should anyone be spared?

"There is an century-old prophesy within the competitive eating community, dismissed by most, that foretells the rise of the .One Eater,. a woman who will electrify America.s gurgitators and lead them to international victory once again. Like Joan of Arc before her, this eater will be slender of stature, but mighty in strength. In recent months, the prophesy has been mentioned more and more frequently as the eaters have watched Sonya Thomas excel in nearly every contest she enters."

posted by Tom  # 5/08/2004 02:05:00 AM

Friday, May 07, 2004

Rumsfeld Digest: He thinks its okay to say this 

Just in case you don't have time to read everything the Secretary of Defense had to say this morning before the Senate, this snippet may help:

SEN. DANIEL AKAKA: So far, we have discussed allegations against military members. Are there allegations of abuse against contractors who are working with military members? If so, are any of these allegations being investigated?

RUMSFELD: There -- my recollection is, and I think it's OK to say this, is that the investigations are ongoing and that time will tell.

posted by Tom  # 5/07/2004 08:56:00 PM

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Atom RSS feed link at the bottom of the blog 

I've been syndicating the Desperado blog via Atom for some time, but Dennis Doughty reminded me I hadn't bothered to announce it. So, scroll on down to the bottom to where you'll find the "XML Site Feed" link and do whatever your RSS reader wants you to do. Or, click here for the same thing. Or, if you are as correct as I know some of you are, cut and paste this: http://desperado-list.blogspot.com/atom.xml.

posted by Tom  # 5/06/2004 08:33:00 PM

If the suit fits, jump in it 

The redoubtable JO runs outside the basepaths with this suggestion:

I repeat my long-standing suggestion that our elected officials be required to wear NASCAR-style jumpsuits adorned with the logos of their largest corporate contributors.

posted by Tom  # 5/06/2004 11:06:00 AM

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

"breast" "bush", "gay", "hot", "my", "old", "pic", "soft", "teen", "trans" and "tv" 

That headline ought to build some site traffic. According to the these reports, those are just some of the character strings that are censored from the anti-censorship software our government has provided to enable Iranians and Chinese to get around Iranian and Chinese software that does precisely the same thing on many of the same sites. (You may need to read that sentence again.)

Note that these are strings that appear in URLs, nothing more sophisticated. Another string is "ass" that just happens to stop searches for usembassy.state.gov and www.grassroots.org

The reports offer the requisite double contradictory explanations for the censorship. The government's International Board of Broadcasters says it was trying to prevent spending taxpayer money so Iranians could go to porn web sites, such as this one. On the other hand, a spokesman for Anonymizer says "The reason it was put in wasn't a prudish impulse but directly to manage costs." Uh-huh.

One of the scholars who did the OpenNet Initiative study on this meta-censorship mechanism, Jonathan Zittrain of Harvard Law School, isn't buying any of it: . "It should be a service that grants access as if one were sitting in the US," he says. "That's giving them a taste of America."


posted by Tom  # 5/05/2004 02:06:00 PM


Are you quite prepared for advertisements on the bases in televised ball games?

Tip of the Desperado tan galan for the pointer to JO.

PS -- Last week the jockeys of the Kentucky Derby won the right to have ads on their jockey trousers, if not their jockey shorts or jockey straps. Taking this one straight around the bend, the noun jockey means "little fellow" while the strap and the shorts get their name from jock, an old and rude name for the membrum virile (or its female counterpart). And then, it turns out, understrapper is a synonym for jockey, but a strapper is "a big fellow".

posted by Tom  # 5/05/2004 12:57:00 PM

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

The number of wars you've never heard of is horrifyingly high 

The Nobel Peace Prize gang has put together a Shockwave-powered interactive
Conflict Map showing every war of the 20th century. There's a slider that you can move along a timeline that shows each and every conflict that took at least a thousand lives.

Each conflict is marked by a little graphic indicating a war between countries, a civil war, or a colonial war. Each graphic is a mouseover which pops up a brief description of the action. World Wars I and II get more detailed treatment. The number of wars you've never heard of is horrifyingly high.

The timeline ends with the year 2000. It is disquieting to note that not a single graphic appears anywhere in North America north of Mexico. The 21st century map will start with a fiery graphic in New York City. Who knows where it will end?

posted by Tom  # 5/04/2004 11:57:00 PM

Saturday, May 01, 2004

Two Poems on Your Blog Day 

Today is Poem on Your Blog Day.

For the past couple of years I've been tutoring English. My student last year was a dyslexic schizophrenic; this year it is a Korean man with a PhD. in Mechanical Engineering. Both of them respond more strongly to poetry than to any other form of reading material. Both are very restrained men, but they both brought in poems to class for reading and discussion.

Poetry is not my strong suit, but I've loved reading it with these students. (My own choices for poetry include Yeats and Cavafy. )

The Korean was fascinated with the picture of farm life in the early 20th century in Robert Frost's "Death of the Hired Man".

The other fellow was deeply moved by "Daffodils" by William Wordsworth. "It shows that words can have lots of meanings packed into them."

"The Death Of The Hired Man" by Robert Frost

Mary sat musing on the lamp-flame at the table
Waiting for Warren. When she heard his step,
She ran on tip-toe down the darkened passage
To meet him in the doorway with the news
And put him on his guard. "Silas is back."
She pushed him outward with her through the door
And shut it after her. "Be kind," she said.
She took the market things from Warren's arms
And set them on the porch, then drew him down
To sit beside her on the wooden steps.

"When was I ever anything but kind to him?
But I'll not have the fellow back," he said.
"I told him so last haying, didn't I?
‘If he left then,' I said, ‘that ended it.'
What good is he? Who else will harbour him
At his age for the little he can do?
What help he is there's no depending on.
Off he goes always when I need him most.
‘He thinks he ought to earn a little pay,
Enough at least to buy tobacco with,
So he won't have to beg and be beholden.'
‘All right,' I say, ‘I can't afford to pay
Any fixed wages, though I wish I could.'
‘Someone else can.' ‘Then someone else will have to.'
I shouldn't mind his bettering himself
If that was what it was. You can be certain,
When he begins like that, there's someone at him
Trying to coax him off with pocket-money,—
In haying time, when any help is scarce.
In winter he comes back to us. I'm done."

"Sh! not so loud: he'll hear you," Mary said.

"I want him to: he'll have to soon or late."

"He's worn out. He's asleep beside the stove.
When I came up from Rowe's I found him here,
Huddled against the barn-door fast asleep,
A miserable sight, and frightening, too—
You needn't smile—I didn't recognise him—
I wasn't looking for him—and he's changed.
Wait till you see."

"Where did you say he'd been?"

"He didn't say. I dragged him to the house,
And gave him tea and tried to make him smoke.
I tried to make him talk about his travels.
Nothing would do: he just kept nodding off."

"What did he say? Did he say anything?"

"But little."

"Anything? Mary, confess
He said he'd come to ditch the meadow for me."


"But did he? I just want to know."

"Of course he did. What would you have him say?
Surely you wouldn't grudge the poor old man
Some humble way to save his self-respect.
He added, if you really care to know,
He meant to clear the upper pasture, too.
That sounds like something you have heard before?
Warren, I wish you could have heard the way
He jumbled everything. I stopped to look
Two or three times—he made me feel so queer—
To see if he was talking in his sleep.
He ran on Harold Wilson—you remember—
The boy you had in haying four years since.
He's finished school, and teaching in his college.
Silas declares you'll have to get him back.
He says they two will make a team for work:
Between them they will lay this farm as smooth!
The way he mixed that in with other things.
He thinks young Wilson a likely lad, though daft
On education—you know how they fought
All through July under the blazing sun,
Silas up on the cart to build the load,
Harold along beside to pitch it on."

"Yes, I took care to keep well out of earshot."

"Well, those days trouble Silas like a dream.
You wouldn't think they would. How some things linger!
Harold's young college boy's assurance piqued him.
After so many years he still keeps finding
Good arguments he sees he might have used.
I sympathise. I know just how it feels
To think of the right thing to say too late.
Harold's associated in his mind with Latin.
He asked me what I thought of Harold's saying
He studied Latin like the violin
Because he liked it—that an argument!
He said he couldn't make the boy believe
He could find water with a hazel prong—
Which showed how much good school had ever done him.
He wanted to go over that. But most of all
He thinks if he could have another chance
To teach him how to build a load of hay——"

"I know, that's Silas' one accomplishment.
He bundles every forkful in its place,
And tags and numbers it for future reference,
So he can find and easily dislodge it
In the unloading. Silas does that well.
He takes it out in bunches like big birds' nests.
You never see him standing on the hay
He's trying to lift, straining to lift himself."

"He thinks if he could teach him that, he'd be
Some good perhaps to someone in the world.
He hates to see a boy the fool of books.
Poor Silas, so concerned for other folk,
And nothing to look backward to with pride,
And nothing to look forward to with hope,
So now and never any different."

Part of a moon was falling down the west,
Dragging the whole sky with it to the hills.
Its light poured softly in her lap. She saw
And spread her apron to it. She put out her hand
Among the harp-like morning-glory strings,
Taut with the dew from garden bed to eaves,
As if she played unheard the tenderness
That wrought on him beside her in the night.
"Warren," she said, "he has come home to die:
You needn't be afraid he'll leave you this time."

"Home," he mocked gently.

"Yes, what else but home?
It all depends on what you mean by home.
Of course he's nothing to us, any more
Than was the hound that came a stranger to us
Out of the woods, worn out upon the trail."

"Home is the place where, when you have to go there,
They have to take you in."

"I should have called it
Something you somehow haven't to deserve."

Warren leaned out and took a step or two,
Picked up a little stick, and brought it back
And broke it in his hand and tossed it by.
"Silas has better claim on us you think
Than on his brother? Thirteen little miles
As the road winds would bring him to his door.
Silas has walked that far no doubt to-day.
Why didn't he go there? His brother's rich,
A somebody—director in the bank."

"He never told us that."

"We know it though."

"I think his brother ought to help, of course.
I'll see to that if there is need. He ought of right
To take him in, and might be willing to—
He may be better than appearances.
But have some pity on Silas. Do you think
If he'd had any pride in claiming kin
Or anything he looked for from his brother,
He'd keep so still about him all this time?"

"I wonder what's between them."

"I can tell you.
Silas is what he is—we wouldn't mind him—
But just the kind that kinsfolk can't abide.
He never did a thing so very bad.
He don't know why he isn't quite as good
As anyone. He won't be made ashamed
To please his brother, worthless though he is."

"I can't think Si ever hurt anyone."

"No, but he hurt my heart the way he lay
And rolled his old head on that sharp-edged chair-back.
He wouldn't let me put him on the lounge.
You must go in and see what you can do.
I made the bed up for him there to-night.
You'll be surprised at him—how much he's broken.
His working days are done; I'm sure of it."

"I'd not be in a hurry to say that."

"I haven't been. Go, look, see for yourself.
But, Warren, please remember how it is:
He's come to help you ditch the meadow.
He has a plan. You mustn't laugh at him.
He may not speak of it, and then he may.
I'll sit and see if that small sailing cloud
Will hit or miss the moon."

It hit the moon.
Then there were three there, making a dim row,
The moon, the little silver cloud, and she.

Warren returned—too soon, it seemed to her,
Slipped to her side, caught up her hand and waited.

"Warren," she questioned.

"Dead," was all he answered.

From North of Boston | Henry Holt & Company, 1915. Online text © 1998-2004 Poetry X. All rights reserved.

"Daffodils" by William Wordsworth

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced, but they
Outdid the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company.
I gazed-and gazed-but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought;

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

Online text by the Gay Gardener.

posted by Tom  # 5/01/2004 11:20:00 AM


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