Τρίτη, Δεκεμβρίου 28, 2004

Golf Tournament

We're in Houston, TX (we being my mother, my brother Kevin, and I) for a golf tournament at the moment. My mother is lying on one of the two double beds, reading a book. My brother is standing on the other of the two beds, chipping golf balls at her. My mother seems to consider this somewhat normal. Blogging will be limited till Thursday. Kevin's currently at 72, which is the low score of the tournament thusfar by three strokes, including for the older age division. Hopefully he'll do well tomorrow as well.

Κυριακή, Δεκεμβρίου 26, 2004

Puttieglimpa and Puppyglimpa

One of the Ancient and Traditional cookies I tried to make this year was Puttieglimpa, a Danish cookie that my great-great-grandmother and great-grandmother used to make for my grandfather when he was a child. I have a recipe card for the puttieglimpa, but unfortunately, it just has a list of ingredients without any instructions about what one might want to do with them. Last year, I combined the ingredients, shaped the dough into crecents, baked them and coated them with powdered sugar, but that wasn't right and frankly, they weren't very good. So this year, armed with the power of the internet, I attempted to figure out how to do them right. My grandparents couldn't remember (initially) how to make them right either so I was on my own. Googling 'puttieglimpa' gets you nowhere, but they're also called Klejner, and that lead me here. Now, as you'll note, that's in Danish, and I don't speak Danish. Grandpa speaks the most Danish of anyone in the family, and he knows exactly one phrase, which translates, roughly, to "I love you, pretty girl," which is not particularly useful in this situation. So I turned to one of those internet translation engines, I don't remember which, except that it was the only one equipped to do Danish. And not that well. So I had it translate the page, and here's what the resulting recipe said:
You shall make use of:

500 g flour, hvede
125 g butter ( the salt)
175 g sugar
3 spk. lemon, shall ( back page)
1 tsk. kardemomme
1 tsk. hjortetaksalt
3 spk. cream 13%
3 piece. edge
1 kos palmin


Butter smuldres to flour.
Sugar, kardemome, hjortetaksalt and citronskal intermix to.
Dejen age together with edge and the cream.
Rests cold to a couple of classes.
Dejen boulder small intestine forth and skæres to shreds at 8 x 3 cm.
In the middle of skæres a 2 cm. tall score.
The alone terminate from dejen have to put up with through score.
Klejnerne cook golden to hot palmin, leave off at fedtsugene document to they're chill.
I took the phrase "boulder small intestine" to mean 'rolling pin', and rolled the dough flat, cut it into 8 x 3 cm blocks, and scored them horizontally every two centimeters. I then baked them. They came out bricklike, bland, and inedible by anyone except the dog. We dubbed them Puppyglimpa. At least the dog likes them.

Finally, I managed to drege up a recipe for Klejner in English, and figured out what the original one meant. What you're supposed to do is make the 8 x 3 rectangles, slit them longways down the middle, and pull one end through the slot. Now, I took this to mean that they were supposed to come out sorta heart-shaped, but this was not the case, as, once I'd gotten a batch made, everyone who had previously had puttieglimpa-amnesia recovered and told me I'd made them wrong. My father, who hates Ancient and Traditional Cookies, told me I'd made them wrong. Apparently, you keep pulling until they're in a strip again, albeit one with a funky little twist in the middle. And then you fry them. This makes all the difference. Baked, they're inedible. Fried, they're okay. I'd then sprinkle them with powdered sugar and drizzle them with melted chocolate. Every little bit helps. Try them. You might like them. And if you don't, the dog will.

UPDATE: Here's my annotated "translation" of the translation of the recipe. Bear in mind that I speak not one word of Danish, I'm just guessing here. Feel free to correct me if you actually do.
You shall make use of:

500 g flour, hvede [hvede = sifted]
125 g butter ( the salt) [salted]
175 g sugar
3 spk. lemon, shall (back page) [back page = rind]
1 tsk. kardemomme [cardamom, obviously]
1 tsk. hjortetaksalt [hjortetaksalt = baking powder, I think]
3 spk. cream 13% [cream or milk, half and half maybe? or 13 and 87, if thats what they have in Denmark?]
3 piece. edge [3 eggs, I think]
1 kos palmin [oil]


Butter smuldres to flour. [Cut the butter into the flour]
Sugar, kardemome, hjortetaksalt and citronskal intermix to. [Mix in the sugar, cardemom, baking powder and lemon rind. Note: This is a different procedure than making most cookies, in which mixing the sugar and butter is standard]
Dejen age together with edge and the cream. [Add the eggs and cream]
Rests cold [Chill] to a couple of classes. [for several hours]
Dejen boulder small intestine [Rolling pin] forth and skæres [cut/score] to shreds at 8 x 3 cm.
In the middle of skæres [cut] a 2 cm. tall score [slit].
The alone terminate [one end] from dejen have to put up with through score. [pull through slit]
Klejnerne cook golden to hot palmin, leave off at fedtsugene document [wax paper] to they're chill.

Σάββατο, Δεκεμβρίου 25, 2004

A Feast Fit for A King

From the time I got home at about 10AM on Wednesday until the time we left for church last night, I essentially sequestered myself in the kitchen to cook for our big Christmas eve party. And let me tell you, it was good. We may be eating those hors d'ouvres for months... Anyway, if you've always wanted to experience Christmas with the Mangos and have never been invited, here are the recipes you need to know, presented Mango-style.

You'll need cured meats from Schulenburg, TX. We get sent those as a gift every year and I have no idea where we'd ge them from otherwise. You're on your own on this one.

Second, and this is one of the longest standing traditional foods of the Christmas Eve party, the Bunko Bread. It sounds weird from the recipe, but try it -- I promise it's good. This recipe makes one Bunko bread, but we always make two and we decided last night that next year, we will make three.

What you need:
A frozen loaf of white bread dough, thawed
A small glass jar of slices of dried beef
A block of sharp cheddar cheese, more than 8 oz
Half a stick of butter
Garlic powder, about a teaspoon.

Cut the bread dough into 32 pieces. Also the cheese. Cut the slices of dried beef in half to make semicircles. Wrap each piece of cheese with a piece of dried beef. Wrap this with a piece of dough. Make sure to seal the ball up nicely. Rinse, repeat. Melt the butter and add the garlic powder. Dip the dough balls in the garlic butter to coat them and put them all in a bundt pan. Let it rise all day with a wet linen towel over top. Bake at 350 for about half an hour when it's ready. Enjoy. And really, make two.

This requires knowing Becky well enough to convince her to bring you chowder. All I know about its composition is that it seems to include both clams and chowder. It's good.

These were a newcomer this year, primarily because my mother left me with a large bottle of Bacardi and instructions to figure out some way to get rid of it. So I made rum balls. Here's how:

1 1/4 c. Chocolate chips
1/3 c. sugar
3 T. light corn syrup
1/2 c. rum (or a little more...)
Just shy of an entire box of Nilla Wafers, pulverized in the food processor
1 c walnuts, given the Nilla Wafer treatment.
Pecans, if you want
Red and green "sanding" sugar. As if you're going to sand something with it.

Melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler. Take them off the water and add the sugar and corn syrup. Then the rum. Then the wafers/walnuts. You can just pour the liquid into the food processor if you want. I'd advise, however, not breathing the fumes that come out of the top hole if you go that route, especially if you need to drive somewhere later.
Add pecans, if that's the sort of thing that floats your boat.

Make balls. Roll them in the "sanding" sugar. Serve. The sooner the better, because after a few days, the rum wears off.

You can do one huge communal one, but I like to do little crab-rangoon-esque ones.

Phyllo dough
Olive oil

Prepare phyllo dough about 6 layers thick, oiling each layer before adding the next one. Once you get that done, cut the compound sheet into about 6 squares. Be sure you've oiled the edges well. Place a chunk of brie and a scoop of marmalade in the middle, and pinch up the corners. If you've oiled it properly, you should be able to make them stick. Bake at 350 for about 12-15 minutes, or until they're done.

Okay, Christmas morning festivities beckon. I'll be back with more later, especially recipes for Ancient and Traditional Cookies with Funny Names.

Τετάρτη, Δεκεμβρίου 22, 2004

Electoral College Count

For those of you keeping score at home, here's how the Electoral College count currently stands:

George W. Bush -- 286
John F. Kerry -- 220
John L. Kerry -- 31
John Edwards -- 1

Looks like Ohio wouldn't have mattered after all, what with JFK splitting the himself-vote three ways.

ADDITIONAL FUN: What does the L stand for? Be creative.

Τρίτη, Δεκεμβρίου 21, 2004


Alright, this week's winners were:
Fixing Our Broken Borders
The Education Wonks


Juan Cole Is Pond Scum

The previous week's were:

Sex and Disease
King of Fools

“Everything Feels Like the Ocean to a Sponge.”

If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Sue ‘Em.
The Sundries Shack

Time to Flush the Berry
Alpha Patriot


How Far We've Come
Victor Davis Hanson's Private Papers

My Rose Colored Contacts
Intermittent Stream

She’s Having a Fetus
The Evangelical Outpost

Δευτέρα, Δεκεμβρίου 20, 2004

On Gentlemen

I was just having an interesting conversation that wandered around to this statement, roughly, "I think he'd be a perfect gentleman if he was actually to be with a girl."

I take issue with that. You're either a gentleman or you're not. If you're a gentleman to some women and not to others, you're not (unless they are evil, but that is another story). If you are only a gentleman around women you want to sleep with, you are not a gentleman. And girls, if he's a gentleman to you and not to his other female friends, don't date him. Please, save yourself the trouble.

It's My Half Birthday!

Go me! Twenty-one and a half!

Πέμπτη, Δεκεμβρίου 16, 2004

Fun with Barney

This is worth the 9 minutes of your life it will take. All I have to say is that President Bush obviously does not choose Cabinet members based on their inherent acting ability.

PS -- can I just say how much I liked the book The Enormous Egg when I was a kid.

PPS -- They have good taste in Christmas music.

True Believers

I've been reading through some of the posts over at Hugh's Vox Blogoli and I'd just like to harp on about one observation people are making. The topic of the day is the traditional Christmas "Bible is Bunk" story in Newsweek.

At Belief Seeking Understanding, he says,
So this [article] is more Da Vinci Code, that the gospels were essentially a marketing campaign to the pagan world, but not historical documents.

The Jesus Seminar stands at a far left extreme of Biblical scholarship. There are a number of people who have a problem believing the Bible means what it says, but the Jesus Seminar people have a problem believing the Bible says what it says. The rest of Meacham's article continues this "gospel-as-pagan-world-marketing-campaign" meme.
Can we just think rationally about this for a minute? The apostles were not venture capitalists. They didn't just all meet up one day and say, "You know, let's give up this fishing thing and this tax collecting thing and go make up a new religion. And if we make it sound real good like, maybe the Phoenicians will believe it. Or the Greeks. Or Ethiopians. Or whatever." These guys HAD a religion, and a fairly servicable one at that. Paul was a really high ranking Pharisee. The only reason for these guys to go try to spread this around was if they believed it 112%, because they had absolutely NOTHING to gain (in this world) for it. They all DIED for this set of beliefs -- you better believe they believed them. The apostles were not PR men, they were converts. It may be hard for Newsweek to understand this, given that their MO is basically "come up with a good story so that people will buy it," but I suspect that, if you had a time machine and a sadistic streak, and you tortured both Jon Meacham (who wrote the article) and the apostle, say, Luke to get them to recant their stories, I bet Luke'd hold up a LOT longer. Those guys believed in the divinity of Christ with every fiber of their beings, even as those fibers were being separated from their beings. It's hard to be cynical about that.

UPDATE: Oh, and one other thing. In the article, it says,
In later years Christians had to contend with charges that their Lord was illegitimate, perhaps the illicit offspring of Mary and a Roman soldier. Now, at the beginning of the 21st century, some scholars treat the Christmas narratives as first-century inventions designed to strengthen the seemingly tenuous claim that Jesus was the Messiah.
If I recall correctly (I can't find it right now, but my pastor mentioned it this week in church) Jesus got crap from people while we was alive about the whole issue, when they said something to the effect of "Isn't that Jesus, son of Mary?" which is totally wack, because men were never described as the son of their mother, always the son of their father, unless of course, they're illegitimate. Later years my foot. I mean, yes, it later than the time of the birth, yes, but that's how time tends to work.

I'm leaving out a lot of good arguments and mangling the ones I am making. Go over to Hugh's. Better people than me have fisked the living daylights out of this already. Go.

Τετάρτη, Δεκεμβρίου 15, 2004

But if I tell you, I have to kill you

One of the really cool things about being in my program and doing what I do is that we get free tickets to stuff and to be involved in other stuff. Tomorrow, I get to be a part of a rehearsal for one show and then later I have a free ticket to see another one. I can't tell you which shows they are yet, but in any case... it's cool.

How To Be A Liberal University Professor, A Case Study

“It was the religious zealots who say they are voting on morals. I think we should all buy AK-47s and shoot them all! That’s what I would suggest, if it were allowed.” -- Dr. John McTighe, Lecturer in Sociology, University of Louisiana. (via Poli-blog

As those of you who have been around for a while, I'm a grad student at NYU, which is really liberal to begin with, and I'm in a liberal department within that. All of the faculty and almost all of the students are Democrats, liberals, leftists, or something else over there, and I was initially very very wary of letting anyone know that I'm a conservative-libertarian simply because I assued they'd hate me, which, in retrospect, was both a completely fair and totally unfair assumption on my part. In any case, the best thing about our department is that our chair and faculty are passionate believers in free speech and the idea that the only solution to offensive speech is more free speech. Sarah, our chair, in an email to us over our email discussion forum, wrote:
I was at a meeting on 44th Street the other day when I heard a  discussion of how certain subject matter would be off limits in the commercial  theatre "from now on" because "red state tourists" wouldn't like it. This  weekend an evangelical group began an effort in the area where I live in  Delaware to block funding for the annnual Independent Film Festival that drew  7000 people from around the country this fall because there was "obscenity" in  some of the films. I am not making either of these things up. They are real. The  impact of such thinking on the kind of writing that is typical of our GWMTP  community has the potential to be immense.
A side note, before we go on, I think "blue-staters" need to give "red-staters" a little more credit for being able to handle contrary ideas (and also, I'd add that not every liberal I know is as free-speech oriented as Sarah and the gang) and "red-staters," and here I have a certain vocal minority in mind, need to chill out and be a little less fragile. I mean, sure, I don't agree with Tony Kushner's politics in Angels in America 100%, but I can still enjoy it. And my mother and her friend, who are both about as red as red can be enjoyed Wicked, which (har!) tourists flock to, not knowing that it's rather subversive [Well, they know it now. -- Ed.Oh yeah. Oops.] and have a genuinely good time. We can handle it. We can all handle it. Everyone take a few deep breaths. No nation has ever fallen because of too much free speech. Alright, back to Sarah.
I dont see this as being about Republicans or conservatives. And we must  not forget that among our alums and current students, we have Republicans and  conservatives--people we treasure--who are as opposed to this kind  of thinking as any of us. This is about a specific group of  people in our country with an agenda they are seizing an opportunity to  exploit. From my perspective, it is an agenda that runs counter to the freedom  of expression that is vital to every writer and composer who walks through our  doors and to certain rights of choice about the way we live our individual  lives.

Pretending that the world is inevitably a safe place for ideas is dangerous business. Maintaining freedom of expression is the always the result of dogged vigilance.

My vote is that we be bold enough to make a mess debating each other  about things that matter--so we can sort through that mess and arrive at an informed personal truth. Ignoring what's out there is not going to do the  trick.

Again I remind you of what we told you when you entered the Program.  While you are here, you have a right to say anything you want to in your writing--and anyone who encounters it has the right to say anything they want to  in response. I think we have to actively defend our write to have this be true  of our work in the world as well.

I encourage you to read deeply about the blacklisting period during the "McCarthy" era if you havent already done so. Then read deeply about unfolding  events in the information management arena today. Then decide for yourselves if we have anything to worry about.
And if you want to read deeply about that sort of thing, Jeff Jarvis is an excellent place to start. He's onto the shenanigans at the FCC.

Anyway, to conclude the original topic, lecturers who want to shoot conservatives = bad, professors who want everyone to have free speech = good, Sarah = double nifty.

Παρασκευή, Δεκεμβρίου 10, 2004

And They Say We're All About the Oil

Via Wizbang we get the tale of a possible oil spill in Alaska. There are still 6 men missing, and searches are being conducted as we speak, but the article doesn't really care about them. The fate of the rare Arctic Loon or whatever is more important. Incidentally, would it matter if the six guys in question were Sierra Club-style enviromentalists instead of oil workers? Praying for the safe recovery of these men would probably be a good idea at this point.

Sex Ed

Holly, in a fit of brilliance, has managed to combine her thing for old movies and...other things...in a strange and wonderful way. It's hysterical. Go go go!

Tie an Orange Ribbon

I go to school in the part of Manhattan best described as "Little Ukraine", and it's really pretty amazing to walk down the street and see orange ribbons tied around essentially everything vertical and narrow -- trees, fence-posts, parking meters, etc, as well as Yushencko posters in the windows, and orange fliers next to the ribbons explaining that they're in solidarity with those standing out in the cold for freedom. I was walking down 7th street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues on Wednesday, thinking how there should be some sort of acknowledgement of the situation in that neighborhood, and looked up and saw the orange ribbons. I almost cried. I think I'm going to go take pictures in the next few days.


At this point, I'd like to sing the praises of Rhymezone.com. I assume most of you don't have the same daily rhyming needs that I do, but really, it's exceptionally good. Go there. Type in a word. Look at the rhymes. The synonyms. The related words. The phrases. Man, it's a beautiful thing.

Παρασκευή, Δεκεμβρίου 03, 2004

Well Knock Me Over With A Feather

Lookee here
[Michael] Moore said his controversial Bush-bashing documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11" is being submitted by the studio for consideration in the best picture Oscar category.

Moore promises that he if wins, his wife, who produced the film, will give the acceptance speech.

Who knew?

Interestingly, if you look at the actual link, it's "http://www.azcentral.com/offbeat/articles/1130Moore-ON.html". Apparently someone at azcentral.com enjoys him almost as much as I do.

Council Results, Double Edition

I've been delinquent in posting the results from last week's Council vote for the same reasons why I haven't blogged for a week and a half. Better late than never, though.

Last Week:
Council -- The Pirates of the U.N.
Dr. Sanity

Arab Media - Shooting in Falluja Mosque
Terrorism Unveiled

Non-Council -- Rules of Engagement
Citizen Smash - The Indepundit

Through a Glass Darkly
Belmont Club

This Week:
Council -- John Kennedy, a Man for Our Time.
The Sundries Shack

Non-Council -- A Failed Revolution.
Iraq the Model

Faith Traditions

Mark Steyn, who I love, has a rather amusing, if somewhat inaccurate piece about Democrats and religion. It's funny though. For example:
Anyway, after a week of trying to turn the Democratic whine into holy water, the House minority leader decided to chuck the saint-dropping. As the whole Jesusland thing suggests, her base isn't entirely on board with the outreach. And frankly the Democrats never do well when they try to square contemporary liberal pieties with religion. For one thing, they recoil from the very word "religion." Al Gore prefers to say, "Well, in my faith tradition . . ." As a rule, folks with a faith tradition tend not to call it such. At Friday prayers in Mecca, the A-list imams don't say, "Well, in my faith tradition we believe in killing all the infidels."

Second, prominent Democrats seem to have great difficulty getting even the well-known bits right. Christmas, according to Hillary Rodham Clinton in 1999, is when those in that particular faith tradition celebrate "the birth of a homeless child." Or, as Al Gore put it in 1997, "Two thousand years ago, a homeless woman gave birth to a homeless child." For Pete's sake, they weren't homeless — they couldn't get a hotel room. They had to sleep in the stable only because Dad had to schlep halfway across the country to pay his taxes in the town of his birth, which sounds like the kind of cockamamie bureaucratic nightmare only a blue state could cook up. Except that in Massachusetts, it's no doubt illegal to rent out your stable without applying for a Livestock Shelter Change of Use Permit plus a Temporary Maternity Ward for Non-Insured Transients License, so Mary would have been giving birth under a bridge on I-95.
Now, this is a bit unfair, as of course, there are plenty of Democrats who are very very sincere about their religion, which does, frequently, happen to be Evangelical Chrisitianity, and there are plenty of Republican atheists and hypocrites and all sorts of other things. Also, I know many Evangelicals who will tell you flat out that they're not religious and they don't have a religion, they have a relationship with Jesus, and they see a very strong distinction there. In otherwords, just because you don't call it a religion, you're not necessarily an infidel. You might be, but it's not certain.

The part about the bureaucracy, however, is right on the money.

UPDATE: Last night, when I wrote this post in my head, Blogger wasn't working properly, so I had to wait till this morning to write it (also, I was only semi-concious from not having slept all week) and I forgot a few things.

I think it's a problem when the dividing line between the political parties is religion, and I also dislike the catagorization of Republicans as Jesusfreaks and Democrats as godless pagans or something similar. As for myself, the reason I'm a conservative/libertarian is because I'm a pragmatist. I'm a Christian, and that governs how I live my life, but my political philosophy is what it is because that's what I think works best. I think gay marriage is practical. I think the most reasonable solution to dealing with terrorists is rendering them deceased. I think that money is best managed by people and not the government. I often think that liberal ideas are swell, they just don't work. Like Communism. It's a great idea. In practice, it's horrible. Of course, I do have exceptions to my pragmatic nature -- I write musical theatre, for example. Can't really get less practical than that. That's not my fault though.


If you've not yet read Peggy Noonan's career-obituary for Dan Rather, you really must. It's surprisingly moving -- like, I almost cried. It's also very even-handed and worth reading. It's practically inexcerptable, but I'll try. Then you have to go read it all. Although, really, if you want to just read about Dan, go read the article and ignore the post. If you want to read about me, keep going.
My first thought: It is a hard world. We all know this in the abstract, but it can take you aback in the particular. In public life the entire body of your work--an entire career of almost 50 years--can now essentially be summed up and dismissed by the last headline on your career, which in this case is "Rather Retires Under Cloud After Forged Documents Story." If Dan had retired of his own volition a year ago, that would not be the headline. "Long Career Reflected Stunning Rise of U.S. Media" would be more like it.

Dan was a great boss. He was appreciative of good work and sympathetic when it wasn't good. He was one of the men--Douglas Edwards and Dallas Townsend were two others--to whom I am indebted, for they taught me how to write for the ear, how to write for people who are listening as opposed to reading. He was generous with praise. Someone who did a good job on a story got flowers and a note. Someone in the newsroom once knocked Dan in a magazine profile, saying he was insecure, always sending too many flowers. Dan thought, Really? Life's tough, you can't send too many flowers! He was open to ideas, he was democratic and not hierarchical in his management style, and he tried to be fair in his dealings with people in spite of a personal emotionalism that was deep, ever present and not entirely predictable.
Life's tough, you can't send to many flowers. Is is the fact that he sent a lot of flowers and was (borrowing Noonan's tense) a good man merit forgiving him for making one huge, spectacular, down-in-flames mistake? Maybe. But isn't what we really hold against him that he's a liberal? I feel like that might be at least half of his sin, and I'm not sure I think it is one. I mean, yes, I disagree, and disagree strongly, but I don't hold that against anyone, at least until someone goes out and implements policy. In other words, I support the holding and expression of ideas I disagree with but I, generally speaking, oppose their implementation. [Duh.--ed.] I think we conservatives are bitter towards the liberal media in much the same way the blue states are bitter towards Jesusland, although as usual, they have better slogans.
For three years, from 1981 through 1984, I wrote his daily radio commentary, a four-minute essay with a one-minute spot that went out to all the CBS affiliates and network-owned stations. It was a great job. We did some good work. Here's how it got done: When I had been doing the show for a few weeks I could see that my work was not good--uneven, without voice, without a clear point of view. I thought I knew the reason. I had become increasingly a political conservative. Dan, it was obvious to me, was a sort of establishment liberal--not a wild leftist and not an ideologue, but whatever smart liberals thought was more or less what he wound up thinking, and saying. I couldn't write his views well, because I didn't buy them and didn't fully understand them. I couldn't write my views, because the show had to reflect his thinking. So I went to him and told him my problem. He was great. He said: On any given issue that we discuss, give the liberal point of view fairly and give the conservative point of view fairly, and then we'll end it with my opinion, because it's my show. I thought that sounded good.
I do too.
It wasn't exactly complicated. Every conservative in America in the last century, especially in the media and in the colleges, knew they would be dinged and damaged if they held to their beliefs. Every liberal in the media and the academy knew they could rise if they espoused liberal views. Dan wanted to rise.
This is true, although thus far, my liberal friends and teachers have been very supportive of the fact that I'm a conservative. Granted, I'm not really in a position to rise at the moment, and I certainly don't wear my views on my sleeve. To borrow from Douglas Adams, my solution is to keep a large supply of placid faces and wear them at all times. Also, being writers, they're a very free-speechy bunch, and like the idea of having a divergent ideology around. On our applications (which were, like, 70 pages) we were asked to list all the books we'd read for fun for the last two years. In a momentary (well, month-long -- that's how long my application took me) lapse of judgement, I included two Ann Coulter books. Now, I say this was a lapse of judgement because if you're applying to a liberal university in a liberal neighborhood in a liberal city and you're not applying to the business or engineering schools, you're applying to a fine arts program at said university, saying you like Ann Coulter is a really stupid thing to do, right? Well, I'm a Missourian, and we enjoy our dangerous relationship with the truth, and besides that, they took me, so it wasn't, on the whole a bad idea. In fact, I'm glad I did and would again, and I appriciate the fact that actual diversity of thought is appriciated. (We've got quite the mix -- there are 23 of us and we're from 15 states, including California, Wyoming, Hawaii, Missouri, West Virginia, and Georgia , three countries -- USA, Israel, Korea, we've got six women, and the men are split about 50-50 gay/straight. We are comprised Catholics, Jews, atheists, generally spiritual, Southern Baptists, and generic Baptists, and plenty of gradations between those things and plenty of other things. We have Asian-American and African-American and Caucasian-Americans. We have techno musicians and pop writers and rock pianists and avante garde composers and classical composers. We have lyricists and bookwriters. And we have a conservative. We are diverse. And, for the most part, we get along.) Anyway, enough about me, we're writing about Dan.
Probably the worst moment in his career, because it was arguably the one most obvious in showing bias and a political agenda, was the time Dan tried to beat up George H.W. Bush live, on the "CBS Evening News," over Iran-contra. Mr. Bush decked him instead, and with a question that reverberates: How would you like your whole career to be judged by one mistake? I do not doubt that CBS News that night thought it was going to take down a vice president, and wanted to. And was embittered by its failure. Which may have contributed to the years long, Ahab-like quest of producer Mary Mapes to bring down George W. Bush with documents it took bloggers less than 24 hours to reveal as fabrications.

And yet. Dan Rather was one of the great breaking-news reporters of our time. Hurricanes, earthquakes, big sudden stuff--he loved it, and he knew how to cover it. A friend reminded me of the beauty with which Dan asked for silence as CBS's cameras lingered on the sun going down on quake-ravaged San Francisco in 1989. And I think of his delicate coverage of stories like Princess Diana's funeral.

I don't think Dan Rather ever saw himself as being destructive in his views and biases when the story of the night was political. He always seemed to me to love America, was moved, always, by those who fight for it. He respected the armed forces and their sacrifices. He surprised me one day by reciting from heart and with tears in his eyes the last letter of Travis at the Alamo. And there was the time, after 9/11, when he went on David Letterman's show and, in speaking of the heroism of what he'd seen at Ground Zero and the tragedy of it, burst into sobs. He felt it. Anyone who felt 9/11 down to his bones--well, who's to gainsay that?


People are complicated, careers are complicated, motives are complicated. Dan Rather did some great work on stories that demanded physical courage. He loved the news, and often made it look like the most noble of enterprises. He had guts and fortitude. Those stories he covered that touched on politics were unfortunately and consistently marred by liberal political bias, and in this he was like too many in his profession. But this is changing. The old hegemony has given way. The old dominance is over. Good thing. Great thing. Onward.

I'm Back!

Blogger's being exceptionally difficult, so hopefully this post will go through. I'm not holding my breath though. But I'm back! I finally got a full night of sleep and have a lot to do today, but I do have a few things to post, if it will let me. So here goes.

Πέμπτη, Δεκεμβρίου 02, 2004


See, I am alive. Blogger's being difficult. I apologize. I haven't posted this week because, frankly, I haven't had enough time to do all of my real work and sleep and as much as I love you all, you're third on the list of things to do. But I'm back, for the time being. Briefly, tonight, as I've had a headache all day. But I think I'm going to sleep in no more than 20 minutes and not setting an alarm. Posting will ensue for the next 20 minutes... Go!