Friday, November 26, 2004

Free association

The (d)evolution of attribution (and not a single citation
among them):

Forster, Poet Auden, Famous writer, Old saying…

Web  Results 1 - 10 of about 847 for "How do I know what I think
until I see what I say?". (0.36 seconds)

The Write Stuff

... coursework. increase awareness of the services of the Writing Center.
“How do I know what I think until I see what I say?” ~EM Forster. ... - 19k -

EduBlog Insights :

... As EM Forster put it, "How do I know what I think until I see what
I say?" It's a chance to synthesize what I read in the blogging world and push myself
to ... - 29k - Cached - Similar pages


... TOM: The poet, WH Auden, said once, How do I know what I think
until I see what I say? BETSY: I just saw that quote somewhere. TOM: Yeah. ... - 17k -

Interview with award winning children's author Sally M. Keehn by ...

... A famous author once said, "How do I know what I think until I
see what I say?"

It was in writing through THE FIRST HORSE I SEE that I began to see
what I had ... - 47k ­

Why Use Writing?

... As an old saying goes, "How do I know what I think until I see
what I say?" In fact, research done by Richard Light at Harvard confirms
that "students relate ...

Sunday, November 21, 2004

How's that again?

Sunday morning latté spit-take:

Bush's mission is to liberate people. --Bob Woodward, ABC This

Did he say "people" or "capital"?

Friday, November 19, 2004

Mystery solved

Not Credible

by Andrew Sullivan

at TNR Online
 | Post date 11.16.04

The new conventional wisdom is that the election results were not
so much a triumph for right-wing Christians as they were a more general
endorsement of George W. Bush's clear, reassuring presence in a troubled
time. How else to explain the two-thirds of Bush voters who were not evangelical?

Those must be the stupid ones.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Wicked fun

This week's writing exercise:

Compare the edited L.A. Weekly version A
Message form the Arrogant Liberal Elite

to the original rant.

As you note the difference a little professional polish makes, tell
yourself, "I'm not enjoying this screed, I'm studying it."

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Sympathy for the devil

My attempt at compassion (Really.  I don't think I've quite got
the hang of it.)

He's a drunk.  His daddy doesn't love him and his mom is a gorgon.  
He's a coward who failed repeatedly in school and business, and only wanted
to be Baseball Commissioner.  He hates us for our freedom.

Don't hate him back, and really make him mad.


And why is Karl Rove, Pillsbury doughboy from Hell, so allfired eager
to define marriage for everyone else?

Does that guy even date?

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

We're not bitter

In which I try to be a better person, for selfish narcissistic

It is only after the election that any use for Alan Keyes has become
apparent: he is the perfect definition of an ugly loser. It was clear from
the jump that his off-the-bench Hail Mary campaign was doomed, even to
the Illinois Republicans who recruited and ran him for U.S. Senate.(Say
one thing for Chicago, the city of the Bulls, Bears and Cubs knows the
dynamics of crushing defeat).In the only race the exit polls got right,
Keyes was utterly stomped by rising star Barak Obama. I’m not even sure
Keyes made it into double-digits, yet he refuses to concede. Instead he
rants on in what’s left of his press coverage, wildly blaming anyone and
anything besides himself, threatening darkly, and in general throwing a
combination hissy fit and pity party that would make Dick Nixon blush.

I’m saying this not to chide our dear Republican allies, who seem to
have developed the tenderest of sensibilities since they steam-rolled us
in the national elections. Even with our faces planted in the asphalt,
and tread marks across our “Run Against Bush” t-shirts, some highly-sensitive
columnists feel they can discern the slightest smidgen of spine still protruding,
the traces of a sneer on our “unchurched” faces AND THEY DON’T LIKE IT
ONE BIT. You could even compare them to the easily-offended PC-types they
used to mock, if you were uncharitable.

But that’s my point about the sorry Mr. Keyes: anyone can see that his
road is not a good way to go. It’s not a credit to his supporters or his
Party, and he’s making himself miserable and ridiculous. Equally distasteful
but more amazing were the chat-boards after the Bush sweep. The victors
were screaming, cursing, hurling insults, calling the vilest of names (Yes,
that stuff is part of the on-line game, but this was markedly more shrill
and much more one-sided than usual). Reading their rage-filled postings,
you would have thought the red side had the election blatantly stolen from
them. Ahem. Yes, well-- sore losers, sore winners-- people of character
can do better. It’s gut check time, America.

Let’s agree. You won; well-played. And 51 - 48 is not a shut-out, there
are millions of Americans who voted each way and a whole slew of folk we
didn’t hear from. I’ve been bashed, you’ve been bashed, all God’s children
have been bashed. (Or, in my scripture, I would not feel so all alone,
everybody must get stoned.) Let’s all go get burritos! OK, that’s not helping.

I’m going to appeal to faith. Yes, me. A few weeks ago I got trapped
into listening to a Public Radio show that usually causes me to hit the
dial so fast I miss my exit. It’s on at about zero a.m. Sunday morning,
and it’s called Speaking
of Faith
. Now here’s what made this particular episode worthwhile:
it included people of different faiths. Faiths, not sects, because pluralism
is a value too. Yes, there was a born-again
type (and, OK, another one on tape, and hosting) and also
a Rabbi, a Professor
of Islamic studies
and a Buddhist teacher.

From the Buddhist
I learned that in Pali, the language of the original Buddhist texts, ‘anger’
and ‘fear’ are the same word. An ironic analysis
of the election paints it as a choice between anger and fear. No wonder
so many of us are looking for a way out, a way past this ugly impasse. 
If you turn down the volume, in fact turn off the TV and ignore the politicianss,
party hacks and pundits altogether, you can hear voices like F.
Peter Phillips
of Montclair, NJ: “Maybe the lesson of both elections
[2000, 2004] is that we need to work much harder to listen to each other
and to take in what we're hearing.”

This seems to be similar to the process Rabbi Kushner invokes when he
describes how difference and disagreement can be a way of respecting each
other. “Our commonality,” he says [at around 23:30 on the download]
“comes from passionately clinging to our uniqueness and our individuality
and our difference. I am convinced that I start by telling you who I am
and what I believe. And then I arm-wrestle with you, we have a big fight
about it: that’s healthy, that’s fun. In Jewish tradition, arguing is a
mark of high respect.” He tells a story about sitting in a coffee shop
as a rabbinical student with all his books, and an old guy coming up to
him and saying, “So, how about an argument?”  A thoroughly friendly,
polite overture, like the one he makes next to the show’s (Protestant)

Right now, if you and I were really brave, and really fortified and
really spiritually secure, and we dared open our hearts to one another,
there’s no telling what would happen to us as a result of this conversation. 
I would really have to listen to you, and I would have to be prepared for
the possibility that you would have something new to tell me that I’ve
never heard before, and once I heard it I would be different.  And
if you sensed that I had heard it and I was different, that would make
you different, and then we’d have to start all over again. …I also expect
that if you continue to be honest, and I continue to be honest, and we
stay at it long enough, that we’ll each discover that we have one another’s
cards in our hands.

From my humanist perspective, this is precisely the goal of education.
To learn how to listen to various points of view (of a poet, figure in
history, scientific theory, person leaving a poll, the guy in seat 34B,
etc) with understanding. This is hard, exacting work. You don’t have to
agree with the other point of view, but you have to walk in its shoes,
sit down and have a beverage with it, really get to know it so you can
see how it fits with, challenges, and changes what you think. This is a
skill, an art, a habit of mind. Not elitist, but worthwhile. And like hitting
the curveball or programming or cooking it takes time and practice, the
will and dedication to invest those, the coaching and guidance to perfect
them. Like freedom, it’s not free, and it don’t come easy. It’s just invaluable,

Monday, November 08, 2004

All Along the Watchtower

From today's NYT

I write from the heart of an evangelical university with a strongly
pro-Bush student body. As I look out over my class, none of the women are
wearing burkas and the men have not beheaded any of the 60 percent or so
of the faculty who favored John Kerry.

And none of the transexuals has been seen since Tuesday night.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Idol speculation

Hey, does it say anywhere in scriptural prophesy, “And in those last days
their leaders shall be named after vulgar names for the sexual parts of
the body, causing school children and producers of down-market cable comedy
shows to snigger uncontrollably.”  Also, is that a detainable offense
yet?  Just checking.

Happy four more years, Dick and Bush!

Saturday, November 06, 2004

It's Moral Values, asshole!

Well, it seems we were wrong—hate is a family value after all. 
And apparently everyone, every single person in this great country of ours
who counts, turned out, stood in line for hours and hours, endured harassment
by court-sanctioned Republican challengers, and defiantly, deliberately
cast a vote for Bush (or voted on an electronic voting machine, which in
some cases amounted to the same thing.) And why?  Because of Moral

How do we know?  Our infallible exit polls told us so.  The
same ones that had Dems chilling the champagne and Bushies cringing sullenly
the afternoon of election day.  Before we found  out how completely
wrong we were.

“Moral values” was an exit-poll option, one possible multiple-choice
answer to the question “What was most important to you in deciding how
to vote?”  I think the other choices were:  I dunno; What I had
for lunch; What’s it worth to you?; and Go perform an unnatural act on

“Moral values” was a phrase so self-evident it required no definition,
until the pundits glommed on to it as the new organizing principal for
our government.  I heard six “expert panels” in the space of as many
hours deconstruct it for us (pace Derrida).  These panels all consisted
of: a hardshell fundamentalist Protestant; another hardshell fundamentalist
Protestant (for balance); a slightly more moderate fundamentalist Protestant;
and a token godless heathen foil, preferably one from the East Coast media
establishment. (And it goes without saying that all participants were white.)
That’s it. There’s your new spirit of tolerance and diversity.  No
Catholics, no non-Christians, not even any Unitarians.  Welcome to
Bob Jones University! pep rallies are mandatory.

The most blatant of these panels was on 60 Minutes, the Wednesday edition,
which is no doubt scrambling to get back on the Dean’s list after handing
in that forged paper.  The only panel member I recognized was Barbara
Ehrenreich who bravely pointed out that there’s nothing in the Bible about
tax cuts for the wealthy and service cuts for the poor. (Whom would Jesus
smirk upon?)  A woman with a frizzy 50’s perm didn’t mince words: 
America now consists of “churchgoers” and “the un-churched”.  A well-fed
man offered the definitive sound-bite: It was a contest between Father
Knows Best and The Times They Are A-Changin’, and Father Knows Best held
Holy Patriarchy! Can we keep our color TVs though?

The next big consensus news topic (and why do I think that pretty much
all we’ll get from here on in is consensus news topics?) is “What to expect
from four more years of Bush.” (NPR’s Morning Edition actually called it
his reign, but let that pass, it’s as accurate as anything they’ve said

I think we all know what to expect.  That’s why even the “un-churched”
among us are down on our dirty, disfavored knees praying for anyone who
is anywhere near Fallujah, any living entity or ecosystem that comes between
the New Mandate Oil Co. and “their” oil (and where do you think oil comes
from, you literalist evo-denying dumbf-ks?), anyone who works for what
used to be known as a living, anyone who has made the moral error of becoming
sick or injured-- hey, bad decision! What were you thinking?

My own particular thoughts are for the caribou.  I’ve never seen
them, and now I guess I never will. I’m sorry that they must be going.
Sorry, sad and sick at heart.

If I may quote from my scripture, it’s a hard rain a-gonna fall.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004


On NPR this morning it was "Happy Birthday to another Massachusetts
presidential candidate: Michael Dukakis!"

Smug bastards.

Tuning to the classical station I heard Ravel, Theme inspired by "The
Gallows".  Very funny. Then they went back to their pledge drive.

Oh, well.

Best analysis:  William
of Slate.  Check out his assessments of Kerry
and Edwards from the New
Hampshire primaries back in January:  dead on.  Edwards/Obama

Googling monkeys (today's google find):

Tikkabik. Comments: Apres moi, le deluge. I thought that was Charles
DeGaulle. ...

It was Louis XV (fifteenth) who said Apres moi, le deluge.". ... - 6k

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

What's at stake?

There is much concern over the strange behavior of our president,
and many theories to account for it. The British are quite eloquent on
the subject.  Has
Bush lost his reason?
, asks Andrew Stephen of The Guardian, aghast
at the three faces of Bush on display during the election debates:

The spoiled brat of the first debate: slouching, peevish, pouting,
pursing his lips with disdain at what his opponent was saying… unable to
marshal any coherent arguments

The wildman of the second, threatening at one point to savage even the
clinically inoffensive moderator Charles Gibson: Bush could not stay
on his stool and leapt up to dispense what were - certainly in contrast
to Kerry's cogent recital of statistics and arguments - frequently defensive,
shouting rants.

The jack-o-lantern of Oct 13:  This time, he was peculiarly
flushed, leading a colleague to speculate whether he was on something.
He had clearly been told to look positive… and spent the evening with a
creepy, inane grin on his face.

That odd grin alarmed one physician so much she was unable to attend
to even his feeble, obvious and repeated slogans.  She wrote
to express concern that his down-turned left lip might indicate he’d had
a stroke.  (My own pet theory is that they botoxed his famous “smirk”,
the one that earned him his nickname
“the lip” at Yale

Others suggest progressive brain damage from alcohol or other neurological
impairment.  They hold up his (admittedly spotty) public record as
evidence of a recent decline (Vanity Fair, "The Teetotal Effect",

The PBS Frontline special Decision
, a 2-hour look at the careers of Bush and Kerry provides a good
glimpse of the devolving W.  Clips from his father’s campaigns are
literally cheerleading (“U.S.A. Bush! Bush! Bush!”).  There’s a clip
after W’s first, lost congressional campaign which is strangely reminiscent
of Oswald (the light? camera angle? the slightly deferential interview

There are a few moments from W’s debates with incumbent governor Ann
Richardson.  These are often held up as a lost “Golden Age” of Bush
eloquence.  He’s never especially grammatical, or truthful for that
matter (“crime is more young”), but overall you see him halfway between
George H.W., his father’s transplanted patrician prairie-speak, and the
“Full W.” that we’ve come to know and love.  Over time W. gets progressively
twangier, more fragmented, less polished/posh.

I don’t know that this peculiar manner of speaking can be ascribed to
neurological damage.  I think it is partly deliberate. If you want
to hear the authentic Texas cowboy
that W. is trying to adopt, listen to the fabulous Documentography
series, photos and sound from the real residents of Crawford. Authenticity
can be gauged by the fact that W is probably the only West Texan who does
not ride (now that Oswald’s dead). Note that the real Texan is not taken
in for a moment by W’s prancing pretensions “We’re acting like the bully
on the block,” he says.  Compared to the genuine article, an accent
rich and tangy as good barbecue, W’s attempt is thin and flavorless as

I think W.’s strange speech and manner is partly situational. It doesn’t
help that, at his loyalty-tested campaign appearances and in his rare addresses
to the nation, he is usually shown reading.  He is not a good reader,
he’s not fluent.

I actually saw him welcoming the Clintons to the White House for some
occasion and he was perfectly suave, cordial and well-spoken. It was a
rare glimpse of him in his element.  When he puts on his shirtsleeve
campaign costume he tries to be like us, Joe Lawnboy, but his native dress
is a meticulously tailored power suit.  Power is his suit, his birthright,
the only home he knows.

I think the best explanation is something I heard Harry Shearer tell
Tucker Carlson about television.  The longer you are on TV, Shearer
said, the more feedback pressure you get.  People tell you, “That
was great, do more of it”, or “That didn’t work at all.” You become a caricature
of yourself over time.

Under the infinitely hotter glare of the presidency, W. has been shaped
and molded. His handlers are the only people he deals with. As Maureen
Dowd says, all presidents are in a bubble, this one’s in a thermos. 
Although his base doesn’t believe in evolution, the theory is relevant
here.  Severe isolation can result in insular dwarfism, in which creatures
evolve into smaller versions of themselves, like the extremely
small humanoids
just discovered in Indonesia.  W:  the incredible
shrinking president.

So, stroke victim, dry drunk, swaggering imitator, or media mutation
FrankenBush, the question now, fellow citizens, is are we really going
to elect a man so obviously unfit to govern?

Don't blame me, I voted for Buchanan

What greets me this election morning is an NPR
birthday shout-out to "commentator" Pat Buchanan.

That would be the same Pat Buchanan holocaust-denier who, on a badly-designed
ballot in Palm Beach, Florida garnered a suspiciously large endorsement
from elderly Jewish voters, yada yada, and the Supreme Court appointed
George W. Bush president.  That Pat Buchanan.

It's also nice to hear that the Supreme Court is still with us, a couple
of feet in the grave not withstanding.  The next news item is that
they have roused themselves to allow Republicans to harass voters at the
Ohio polls.  Go, Big Red Machine!  Suppress that vote! Remember
to scurry appropriately for Michael Moore's cameras.  Try not to impale
anyone with a flag, it's been done.

"It's almost too good to be true!" enthuses the brainless Renee Montagne
on checking in with a rural Ohio county and, hearing that, aside from most
of the election judges having been intimidated into resigning, everything
is going fine.  Perry
, according to state census figures is 99% white with a median
income of $34k.  Do we really expect that Republican poll "challengers"
are challenging rural white voters, or asking suburban soccer moms to produce
their passports at polling places?  Thank god we've averted that nightmare.

What's with the new, not-so-crypto conservative Morning Edition? Why
isn't anyone on this story? Yesterday they ran a profile of a (nutball)
fringe candidate
straight-up:  just let him rant away, against evolution, immigration,
human sexuality, etc.  Sure, stuff as dumb as this refutes itself,
but why give it air time?  Maybe to make "Senior" Commentator Juan
Williams , "Senior" News Analyst Cokie Roberts and "Senior" Washington
Editor Ron Elving seem more reasonable? When did "senior" become a synonym
for "Republican"? Where's Strom Thurmond when you need him? This morning
we had very "senior" T.R. Reid slobbering over the power of the vote for
"The Poor
.  It's the poor listener I pity.

Pay no attention to the corporations behind the curtain!  And Happy
Birthday to holocaust-deniers, religious fundamentalists, bigots of all
stripes and vote suppressors everywhere!