Wednesday, August 31, 2005


The last day of the month. Just to review: at the onset of bloggerdom, someone determined that the designated subject on the last day of every month shall be cats. Cute. It has led to a plethora of cat stories, bios, and pictures. I own a cat, love 'em.

But my interest is poetry. So I have another tradition: on the last day of every month, I post a poem. It is about the only consistent thing I have done with this online journal. I encourage others to do the same. Once I get better at setting up links, I'll add anyone's poetry to my opening page.


Pam met me at the door,
speechless and wrought, unable to watch
any more news from the Gulf,
where thousands mill about the land
lost from all connection to reality,
where Home is no longer a structure, no longer a city,
no longer safety and food and water,
Nothing to grasp and say, I’m fine.

She wants to fix it.

The stories are multiplied by the living,
marked by the dead,
and carried in the hearts of those who strive to comfort;
if we could pick one, send bread and drink and blanket,
we could be the neighbor that says
Your city is gone, my door is open.
But the size overwhelms our senses;
the breadth of the sea, the strength of the wind,
the lash of the rain, the power of the moving sky,
the layers of grey clouds that just will not go away.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Blogging Doonesbury

I like “Doonesbury”. Reading it is part of my morning routine: 20 years ago, I read it in the morning paper, today it is a link on my portal page. Garry Trudeau is of our generation, a boomer who grew up during the cold-war ‘50s, college in the ‘60s, the Vietnam War, Richard Nixon. He has parodied and pilloried scores of politicians, hippies, cult figures and entertainment icons. The social critic and commentator, in four boxes every day and eight every Sunday.

I usually agree with his sentiments. But recently, he has begun ridiculing bloggers. He does it with more than just a quiet smile or laugh; the tone is outright sarcastic. Certainly, of the millions of electronic journals being thrown into the ether, many are rife with empty vitriole, rants, and silly tripe. But many people are simply writing as a way to communicate, or to connect with friends and family, or simply because they know they have a small readership. We are not all journalists, and very few are striving to meet such standards.

Let a million flowers bloom; some of it actually might be good writing.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Exporting "The 700 Club"

Another example of the impact American culture has on other countries -- and how poorly it can translate at times.

For reasons known only to its owner, a Finnish Christian television network broadcasts “The 700 Club.” Apparently, this network only carries certain portions of it in an attempt to be somewhat judicious in filtering out controversial political segments. But it backfired last week when Pat Robertson said that the U.S. should “take out” Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.

The Finnish network pulled Robertson’s show off the air.

The Finns are a Lutheran nation. But they are also very wary of mixing religion and politics. The owner of the Christian station states that he will ‘monitor’ Robertson’s broadcasts for a while before deciding whether to put it back on the air.

I wonder how “take out” translates into Finnish?

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

A basketball sideshow in Helsinki

Dennis Rodman will play for a Finnish basketball team.

Actually, he has signed a contract to play a minimum of 10 minutes for Torpan Pojat, a Helsinki-based team in the Finnish professional league. The owner figures that he can increase his normal 2-3,000 attendance to about 8,000 with Rodman in the lineup, particularly since the game is scheduled on a night with no hockey game in town.

A marginal sideshow like Rodman finds a marginal professional team to pay him.

But please, let’s not call Finland a marginal country.

Unless, of course, it is a cold dark winter night with no hockey.

Monday, August 22, 2005

The missing element behind Cindy

Cindy Sheehan represents something that George and Oligarchs do not want to confront: the opposition. The President’s Texas compound provides a protective environment for his vacation, and Cindy and her fellow campers live outside that recreational haven, unheard and unnecessary. Problem is, the campground keeps getting more tenants, and they won’t go away.

The issue is simple. Her son was killed in Iraq last year. She believes her son’s death was unnecessary: the United States invaded Iraq for spurious reasons, and her family sacrifice was too high a price to pay for such poor leadership decision-making. She wants the leader of our country to hear this, and to explain his decision.

But George only surrounds himself with supporters. Other voices and opinions are superfluous. An oligarchy survives on disciplined adherence to the leader’s direction.

George has already expressed his sympathy to those who have lost sons and daughters in Iraq and Afghanistan. To his mind, he cannot respond to every parent who asks for an audience, especially if they have publically expressed their opposition to George’s Iraq decisions.

Cindy actually represents something much larger: the generational difference between today and the Vietnam war. Public opposition to the Iraq war now equals the disapproval numbers for US action in Southeast Asia. George’s low approval ratings rival those of both Johnson and Nixon during the height of the Vietnam war.

But we do not have marches in the street, college campuses in an uproar, smoke bombs and firehoses aimed at surging masses of protest. All we have are Cindy and a collection of distraught parents, camping out quietly in George’s neighbor’s lawn.

The difference is the lack of a draft. We don’t have a population of nervous 18-25 year olds wondering whether their number is up and they will be sent off to an undefined and controversial war. This population comes with an equivalent number of parents worried about losing their progeny to a war that seems as vacuous as the one they grew up with 30 years ago.

So we have a generation with the appropriate dose of skepticism, but missing the personal reason to complain in the streets.

So Cindy becomes pretty lonely martyr. And the Oligarchs can smirk behind the fence.