- I’ve ranted about the 24-hour news cycle and how I think it’s responsible for any number of ills, but today on my way back in from lunch I spotted the headline on CNN: “Deadly Flu: Nowhere is safe!”
Now, this may well be actually true, but honestly, it would be nice if the news actually brought perspective and insight to its reporting rather than sensationalism. I remain a dreamer.
- eloren says to me toward the end of a long and somewhat troublesome workday: “I can’t even go home and crawl into bed and pretend today didn’t happen, because I have to help Ryan [her son] build a bug. It’s build a bug day.”
Immediately, I imagined a sort of Goreyesque spin-off of the Build-A-Bear workshop. I’m uncertain if it’s unfortunate or just as well that I don’t have the money and time to pursue these ideas I have.
- Speaking of ideas, can anyone actually explain Japanese culture to me? I don’t mean the shoguns and the samurai and the Bushido Code and all that. All of *that* I understand. I want to know where this stuff comes from.
- Only a few people actually asked me questions in the "ask me anything" meme the other day. I’m still open for them if you want. A couple of them gave me good ideas for more involved posts, which I hope to be writing in the near future. So don’t be shy — I really do want to hear from you, if only to assuage my insecurity that anyone actually reads this journal any more. 🙂
- While pulling out my little snapshot camera and checking its battery, I realised I never uploaded the few photos I managed to take at Gafilk. Look for those shortly.
- Speaking of photos, I love that Flickr gives me touch-up tools right on the website. One of the reasons I never bothered fixing the red-eye on some of them is that Gallery made it reasonably difficult to replace photos after editing them. They aren’t perfect tools, but it’s better than nothing and means I’m much more likely to try and fix things than before.
- I wish there was a better LJ client for linux. Logjam is ok, but it lacks a preview feature, and Drivel crashed on my Ubuntu system.
Tag: musing Page 2 of 4
Whenever you discuss issues of relevance to a minority community, eventually the notion of privilege comes up. There are certain status that, through accident of birth, simply make it easier for you to get by in our society. Two things I’ve observed about this in the past are that 1) telling someone they have some sort of privilege often makes them defensive, and 2) it’s really hard to realize it when you have it.
I know that I’m extremely fortunate in many ways to have been dealt the cards I have. I’m a married white guy from a comfortably middle-class family with country squire roots. Double Income No Kids and good jobs means that I have a fair amount of disposable income at hand — not enough to do whatever I want whenever I want, but enough to live comfortably in a nice neighborhood with two cars and a fair number of gadgets and toys — not to mention traveling across the country just to see someone I love because I can. While there are certainly parts of my life that are well outside the mainstream, they’re easy enough to hide if I was inclined to. (I’m not, but I’ve found — and have sometimes been gently chided for – simply not mentioning things makes it pretty easy to avoid scrutiny.
Do I have privilege? I have privilege in spades. Good lord, I’m only short being rich and good-looking for a full hand of trumps. And it’s not my fault, and I can say that none of the things should matter, but they do, and when you were born able to breathe the water, it rarely occurs to you that other people are drowning.
Part of the problem is that it’s really hard to put yourself in another persons shoes. No matter how much you empathize, no matter how much you care, no matter how much you show solidarity, its hard to really grok what it means to be black, or poor, or gay, or a woman, because you just don’t have the context. You don’t have the invisible framework that exists around those things that lets you see the world the way they do. You can see the picture, but don’t notice all the colours, or the little details that are just out of your frame, but the painter was quite aware of.
Every now and then, someone will come along and tear a jagged wound in their soul so that you can see inside, and while total understanding still eludes you, something strikes you deep in the heart, and you get it just a little more. Yesterday, shadesong pointed to just such an essay, a reaction to the Jena 6 incident that is continuing to play out in Louisiana and the continuing presence of racism in our society.
A few minutes later, I was helping my then terminally-ill father to the bathroom. He had been down south for a few weeks with my mom. Back “home” was where he wanted to die. I stayed there with him, as he stood at the urinal.
“You know” he said, “I came back here to let go, right son?”
“I wanted it to happen here…where I was born. With Mama and Daddy, and everything I knew. I wanted to go…home.”
“And I’ll be”—he looked around to see if there was anyone there to hear him curse—“I’ll be Goddamned, if the shit I ran away from in 1948 ain’t still here.” He sighed heavily. “The same shit.”
He looked at me. His eyes wet with tears. “I swear to God son, I tried to make this a better world for ya’ll. I tried. And look at it. Coming home to this shit…I know I’m not gonna be here much longer…but coming home to this shit…it just takes it outta me that much more. I feel like I could die today.”
Read the whole thing. Walk a mile in those shoes, and see the world through another’s eyes. Understand where you are, how far we have come, and how far we have yet to go.
Today’s installment of the webcomic Todd & Penguin struck a chord with me:
Most people who know me socially remark on my generally sunny disposition. In fact, I remember jhayman asking me once “Are you always that cheerful?” My reply began: “No, but more often than not. I long ago came to the conclusion that you cannot always control what is going on around you, but you can always control how you react to what is going on around you. Positive attitude won’t solve all your problems, but a negative attitude will make all your problems worse. So why not go with the better percentage?”
And it’s true that this is how I try to live, and many times I succeed. But the flip side of my personality, which not everyone sees, is that I am always worrying about things. What have I missed? What am I not doing right now that I should be doing? What is going to go wrong? It’s no wonder that my favourite of Murphy’s General Laws is “If everything appears to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something.”
I try not to obsess about these things to the point that they paralyze me, and I do make a conscious effort to put a positive spin on things, but the point is that it is a conscious effort. Worrying is my rest state. This is probably why I tend to be very shy of change, and why I always stress more at quarter end when work evaluations are due. Given nothing actually plausible to fret over, I’ll invent something to worry about. Am I boring to my sweeties? Have I offended someone terribly and that’s why I haven’t heard from them lately? Is a piece of the International Space Station about to fall to earth and land on my car?
I don’t expect to actually do anything about this, mind you. It’s just something to ponder this morning, as I try to recapture my normally blithe spirit in the wake of the last couple of days.
I had intended not to post anything today, or if I did post anything today, I intended not to mention the Anniversary of the Big Event.
It’s not that I have a problem with people remembering. It was something that affected each and every one of us, and my cynicism over how that event has been exploited for political and commercial gain doesn’t change the fact that very real people are experiencing very real emotions today. I’m not immune. I won’t ever forget that day. But I won’t let it define my life. I can’t. If we let this tragedy define us, then we’ve allowed the bad guys to accomplish something, and I guess I’m just too stubborn to give in to that.
On the other hand, a moment of honest reflection is worthwhile. So I offer you three things, in memory of all we lost, and all we gained.
- Brooklyn humorist ZeFrank turned serious on The Show Thursday:
So in the last week, President Bush has called on Americans to use the five-year anniversary of September 11th as a chance to recall the unity that we felt in its aftermath. It was a pretty amazing unity. We were certainly bonded together by fear but also by a kind of hopefulness. It was a hopefulness from the experience of the amazing strength that we have when we decide to help each other.
That unity was not about the government. It was a shared determination among us to make things better. The President seems to think that “unity” implies supporting him and his policies. In my personal opinion, the President has no right to attach himself to that part of our experience. He already had his shot. While every other aspect of 9/11 is defiled this Monday, let us at least keep intact the memory of what that unity meant to us.
- Seen several places on my friends list, 5tephe gives us a suggestion for what we can do today:
I heard a lady on the radio this morning with the best Idea ever.
Go out today and do something tangible, that makes the world better.
Visit someone in hospital, give blood, make a $5 donation to a charity, bake a cake for a neighbour, fix up that hole in your mother-in-law’s fence, write a letter of congratulation to a Nobel peace prise winner, hand in that umbrella to lost and found, pick up litter outside your work, drop off a bundle of tinned food to the local homeless refuge, scrub off some graffiti from a wall, change the light bulb in the hall of your block of flats, sweep off the sidewalk outside your house and clean out the gutter, help Mrs Johnson across the road to carry her groceries in.
Just go out and do something. Make sure it is physical, tangible. Make the world a better place in some way. Help someone. Help each other. Make today not about the death, and destruction, and violence, and intolerance, but about the gift that you can make, yourself, right now.
Change the world.
Pass this idea around folks. Link to my little spiel, or copy it into your own journal. Then make a comment (and encourage others to, also) letting each other know what it was you did today.
- John Ford’s poem, 110 Stories, is still the best piece of creative art I’ve seen come out of these events.
Some nights I still can see them, like a ghost.
King Kong was right about the Empire State.
I’d rather not hear what you’ll miss the most.
A taller building? Maybe. I can wait.
I hugged the stranger sitting next to me.
So this is what you call a second chance.
One turn aside, into eternity.
This is New York. We’ll find a place to dance.
In closing, while remembering the events of this day, remember also this: we were hurt, but we were not destroyed. We are still one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all, if we want it to be. And when someone tells you that we must give those ideals up in order to be safe, remember this day well. And tell them no.
Every morning, I receive, via e-mail, a digest of headlines from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, detailing for me the top stories of the morning with links to the stories should I care to pursue them. This morning, one of those headlines stood out, not least because it was singled out in the subject line of the e-mail:
In a juicy excerpt by former bin Laden concubine-turned-“Days of Our Lives” soap opera scribe Kola Boof, 37, she writes that the terrorist mastermind was obsessed with the Alpharetta pop star during her tenure with him.
In her memoir, “Diary of a Lost Girl,” Boof dishes that “He [bin Laden] told me Whitney Houston was the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen. He had a paramount desire for [Houston] and although he claimed music was evil, he spoke someday of spending vast amounts of money to go to America and try and arrange a meeting. In his briefcase, I would come across the Star [magazine] as well as copies of Playboy. It would soon come to the point where I was sick of hearing Whitney Houston’s name.”
If you’re anything like me, the following thoughts probably occur to you at this point, more or less in this order:
1) This is news we need to know?
2) Osama bin Laden has become part of the celebrity culture.
3) Poor bastard.
And then….like a beacon of light, it occurred to me. I know how we can find this guy, at long last. And because I am a patriotic American who loves his country, I offer this to the leaders of our military at no cost, without expectation of recognition or recompense.
The Army simply needs to form the 1st Armoured Paparazzi Division. We assemble a unit of the world’s top celebrity photographers, air drop them onto the Afghanistan/Pakistan border, and within two weeks, we’ll be getting shots of Osama going into his cave with a newspaper held up to block his face.
Go ahead. Say it’s crazy, but it just might work!
I’ve been debating how much I want to talk about 2005. In many ways, it was a painful year. There were highlights, of course. kitanzi and I spent half of February honeymooning in England, I got to visit New York City for the first time, and we celebrated our first wedding anniversary and fourth couples anniversary. I developed a much closer romantic relationship with aiela, which brought me joy, and cultivated an intimate and satisfying friendship with klrmn.
On he downside, I spent much of the second half of the year fighting off depression, much of it wrapped up in a specific single issue that ultimately was not resolved satisfactorily. In the process, I learned a lot of useful things about myself, and a lot of things I wish I hadn’t about someone else, leaving me ultimately more disappointed than I was with the outcome of the issue.
Between myself and kitanzi, we had a lot of medical issues, the most major of course being her shoulder surgery in November. I’m still working to get a handle on my blood pressure. We started and then faltered on a fitness plan, partly due to various infirmity, but mostly on my part due to my depression.
My task for 2006 is to take the good stuff above with me, while leaving the bad behind. I will make my 2006 be a year of light and love and joy and hope and promise, for myself and all of those I care about. How’s that for a New Year’s resolution?
For a variety of reasons, I’ve been musing a lot on love and relationships lately. Thinking about why I love the people I do, and what I want from and what I get from the people who love me. Part of this has included re-reading old journal entries and e-mails, and in the process of doing that, I came across this entry from early 2004, which was written in response to a series of questions one of the people I love asked in her journal. Rereading it, I realized that in that post, I had very neatly summed up my ideals and convictions on the subject.
So, I’m reposting it here, but this time as a statement of intent. This is what I think about love, this is what I want from my partners, and these are the ideals that I shall endeavor to live up to in each of my relationships. This is a declaration of who I am and what you can expect from me.
Do we dare attempt to make the world we have the world as we would have it?
So tonight we moved our Usenet servers to our new data centre. All went pretty smoothly, aside from one stripped rackmount screw that we had to expend a good deal of effort dislodging.
Usenet was one of my first real online communities. I hung out on a few BBSes before I got on the Internet proper, and UMNews on BITNET was a sort of proto-usenet, but, really, it was on newsgroups that I first really became a PART of the online world. There was no world-wide web then. There was only e-mail, and glorious Usenet.
Which brings me to Russ Allbery’s Usenet Rant. I once had a copy of this printed out and posted over my desk. It’s a constant reminder of why I do what I do for a living, and why I do what I do in my spare time. It’s why I’ve poured my heart into sustaining projects like JediMUD and FilkNet.
Go read it. Here, there be wisdom: http://www.usenet2.org/rant.txt