Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Now.... Posted by Picasa

Then.... Posted by Picasa

Safer, Safe, Not Safe At All...The Diminuendo Effect

Good place to start this evening on the Gulf Coast catastrophe is The American Street - posts there are hitting the failures to plan and deal from many angles.
Then follow Neddie's lead (I can't make Skippy's Challenge threshold myself - I'd probably be in the Dome if I was there), but add that $0.01 so they know where it came from.

[Addendum: Rox has a heart-breaking post from Michael Tisserand at altWeeklies about the flight from NOLA. It reminds me that New Orleans was my grandmother's favorite city, one in which she would have been happy to stay if the climate hadn't been bad for her health (she had to leave it in the 1920's), and if my vagabond Grandad hadn't fixed his eyes West and dragged her along with. She would have adopted it, and it would have adopted her (she was the natural queen of her Women's Clubs, wherever she was, and I am confident she had hundreds of stories she wouldn't have told to a mere boy). But she recalled to me the spectacle of a banana boat burning on Lake Pontchartrain, the wonder of it and of the city around it, and I know she would weep for the loss we are all witnessing now.]

[Addendum 2: Good wrap-up of Bushie responsibility for the scope of the Katrina disaster - and associated catastrophes in the making - from Sidney Blumenthal at Salon.]

[Addendum 3: Lance has a comment post from Houston with an extensive list of agencies, outposts, contact numbers, etc., and what they need (besides funds, of course), so go look at that. This is so clearly going to be a long haul, and it is not just New Orleans, so more info like this from the region will help even more people. Son of one of my best friends graduated from Tulane this last spring - wrote to see if he has any special knowledge from his years there. C'mon, all of us rootless cosmopolites, pitch in!]

Monday, August 29, 2005

In Their Dreams..... Posted by Picasa

Fears of the Fearless

This has been gnawing at me all week.

I find this post at Balkinization, by Dan Kahan, very intriguing (though the comment thread seems to me obtuse, but then, it's not my field exactly). Kahan says that, "The reason white males are less fearful of various risks is that they are more afraid of something else: namely, the loss of status they experience when activities symbolic of their cultural worldviews are stigmatized as socially undesirable." The study he co-wrote that supports this statement, Cultural Cognition and Public Policy [pdf, but only about 300K], is, now that I've read it, very persuasive, and should give all of us with wonkish tendencies pause. As I understand its conclusions, you could throw a mountain of fact at a person and, if they were predisposed to distrust you on the study's axes (hierarchical-egalitarian and individualistic-solidaristic), you'll likely get nowhere with them. What's most interesting is that these cultural predispositions do NOT correlate with religion, ideology, race or class. Pandering to "values voters" is most likely, therefore, to be seen for what it is - pandering (Digby has been firm on this for a long time - just read down and you'll find a splendid example).

Amanda at Pandagon has been all over the covert hostility to women that pervades the right wing - and its not infrequently overt expressions, for that matter - but her recent post on Plan B this weekend strikes me as a perfect occasion to put into practice what Kahan and Bruman call "expressive overdetermination" - i.e., a policy that, "is sufficiently rich in social meanings that individuals of otherwise opposing cultural orientations can see their way of life affirmed in it." They do, in fact, use French abortion reform policy as an example - and we all know that Plan B is OTC there, with full acceptance by religious traditionalists. Let the rabid fringe once again be the tattered fringe, because they will likely reject any overarching or embracing arguments that would reduce the frequency of abortion. Their battles lie elsewhere, and they just won't admit it.

Which leads me back to the fears Kahan mentions in the blog post. Is the Cheney Administration (as Billmon so accurately calls it) so fearful of the loss of status of its Big Swinging Dicks that it can't admit of any risk at all in its adventures? Heads held high, over the cliff, with a stiffy? Are we really a nation of fucking lemmings?

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Avant le déluge - Please, let's hope it survives. Posted by Picasa

Friday, August 26, 2005

Coming Up for Air

Apologies for no posts this last week - vacation rest stimulated the need for more (I have a monster sleep deficit), and I am just getting up to speed. New pieces this weekend.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Didn't mix any negronis, but this was the right feel for the weekend.... Posted by Picasa

Northern Exposure - Leg Deux

Dropped off at the Park&Ride on Mercer Island Saturday afternoon. A steep island, with a high spine, rearing out of Lake Washington, but it seems to be much more School Island than Pleasure Island (for those of us who like that sort of thing), and if you don't have kids, you will feel very, very lonely. My relative-hosts have two - one just out of HS and now in a highly selective film program, and one a daughter in her 2nd HS year (who loves ATHF as much as I do). There are no movies and only 4 Starbucks ("Used to be five." the daughter told me, without much regret, or perhaps with mild irony). I was touched that the family kept their Kerry/Edwards signs up in the parking turnaround at their house.

Some house. 3 stories built into a slope, front door at the back, balconies at the front, lots of light, and air (good, as the a/c was down), and nearly every room was some kind of studio - made for stimulation and work. Mom and Dad, in this case, work from home (he does the images, she does the words), and they are pretty prosperous and pretty independent. Also always busy.

Earlier this summer they were two weeks in El Salvador, an ongoing church project, chopping and laying rock for roadbeds in a village they work with. This was Doug's and Diane's second stint there, and we talked about the aid philosophy behind the project - no one-offs, build infrastructure, build community resources, keep support teams coming. They know the pitfalls of privately sponsored aid work, and so do their beneficiaries, who were surprised (and it seems very pleased) to see them return. Not blind to history, either - some of the people they are helping used to be with government forces, in the day; some were guerrillas, now they are neighbors. Stitching the society back together has to be part of the process. But having a roadbed not drowned in caleche is even more immediate - can't get the crops out without it.

The pic of their pastor with a cerveza and a cigar was pretty heartening, too.

There was an opportunity to meet some of their fellow congregants that first afternoon, but I missed it - crashed for nearly 6 hours, then a few hours up (that's when I got the El Salvador briefing), and two nights of uninterrupted, baby-monitor-free sleep, in the wake of which I still ride.

There were many felicities in between. House is full of paintings - I was especially taken by a bunch of thumbnail studies Doug had done to get his hand back in oils - just details from late-19th/early 20th century french subjects, but fresh and lively and skewed to his bright rich palette. I know some of the sources first-hand, and these were good.

On Sunday morning, sitting on a balcony, you can listen to the passing conversations of groups of bikers on the road below - bits of local gossip, business advice, kid talk - you hear it first, catch a glimpse of the speakers through the trees, then hear it fade, but it hangs together. My hosts like it, too. And I jaunted down to the lakeside - big houses, also some shacks, sound of kids splashing in a backyard pool, public beach, some older kids strumming guitars at the head of the stairs leading to the water. Sheltered, a bit remote, but minutes from Bellevue, from Downtown, from Cap Hill. Once the kids are well-launched, they'll move back into Town.

My old boss (not a native speaker of English) would have said that Doug and Diane, "work like 10 dogs." They do, and they did, in order to escape the commute, and nannies, and to maintain their family on their own terms. When they moved to Mercer Island, it was actually cheaper than other parts of greater Seattle. They were hit hard by the slump after 9/11 - couple of years of just scraping by. They have clients they have never met face-to-face, but they have brains and talent and clear heads and guts. Just being around them was a tonic to me. And I still grin when I think of those gallant Kerry/Edwatds signs.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Total Sweetheart! Posted by Picasa

Wednesday Dog-Blogging Interlude

This is Kacey (at least, that's what her tag said - I don't think there is an authoritative spelling) - and she loves to kiss Boys with Goatees. Bit lopsided, but an abundant alertness and energy - that tail is normally at full mast. Love at first sight (because I am a dog-slut...only met her last Friday).

The Riviera from Des Moines, WA Posted by Picasa

Northern Exposure - Leg 1

The sudden decompression from a 24/7 job takes a while to register, but I think my biggest help last Friday was sitting, on the train for Seattle, next to a woman who was fused to her cell phone, digging for all her life into the backstory of some deal, some colleague's psychology (how much of a timebomb was he?), all with the least possible amount of affect. A glimpse of Business Hell. Perked me up no end, but I think my House of Pain hoodie scared her, because she fled across the aisle to an empty seat as soon as one was available.

This was my first summer ride from PDX to Tacoma - everything had leafed out, the cows were in the corn, it was all very lush and luscious. By the time my brother and his patient (former Boeing guy, now with the Alzheimer's Corp.) met me at the station, morning clouds had burned off and we were in glorious summer. Lucky guys, they can enjoy the view (see pic above) of Puget Sound from their back terrace, day in, day out. Lucky in many other ways - great friends a few houses down, who share the watch, and who like to lunch, as well as host late afternoon cocktails with the same delicious view. I cannot thank them enough for their hospitality.

The really cool thing about my brother's gig is that he and Tom seem to be on the road most of the time, exploring Greater King County for good pubs, good soup, good desserts - they seem to be known and well-loved everywhere. And Scottie is a wizard at filling Tom's pipe while in the diamond lane. I am in awe.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Only going to Seattle, but I liked this Choo-choo... Posted by Picasa

On the Road

Actually, it will be the railroad, but I need to get packing here (and all the ancillary stuff that can fend off chaos while I'm away). It is possible I might post over the weekend, from Seattle, but we'll just have to see. Back Monday!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Gardens of Stone, where Sheehans Lie.... Posted by Picasa

Power and Shame

For Cindy Sheehan -

King Richard -
A flourish, trumpets! strike alarum, drums!
Let not these tell-tale women
Rail on the Lord's anointed. Strike, I say!
Either be patient and entreat me fair,
Or with the clamourous report of war
Thus will I drown your exclamations.

Duchess of York -
O, let me speak!

K. Rich -
Do then, but I'll not hear.

Duchess -
I will be mild and gentle in my words.

K. Rich -
And brief, good mother, for I am in haste.

Duchess -
Art thou so hasty? I have stayed for thee,
God knows, in torment and in agony.

K. Rich -
And came I not at last to comfort you?

Duchess -
No, by the holy rood, thou know'st it well,
Thou came on earth to make the earth my hell.
A grievous burthen was thy birth to me,
Tetchy and wayward was thy infancy;
Thy school-days frightful, desp'rate, wild , and furious,
The prime of manhood daring, bold, and venturous;
Thy age confirm'd, proud, subtle, sly, and bloody,
More mild, but yet more harmful - kind in hatred.
What comfortable hour canst thou name
That ever grac'd me with thy company?

Richard III, IV. iv.

And let Cindy (and all who support her) stay until His Majesty cries for a horse...

Unbound.... Posted by Picasa

The Open Road

In honor of the upcoming weekend (for which I side rather more with Toady and Mole than with Ratty, this time), we return to WITW adventures:

`RATTY,' said the Mole suddenly, one bright summer morning, `if you please, I want to ask you a favour.'

The Rat was sitting on the river bank, singing a little song. He had just composed it himself, so he was very taken up with it, and would not pay proper attention to Mole or anything else.

`But what I wanted to ask you was, won't you take me to call on Mr. Toad? I've heard so much about him, and I do so want to make his acquaintance.'

`Why, certainly,' said the good-natured Rat, jumping to his feet and dismissing poetry from his mind for the day. `Get the boat out, and we'll paddle up there at once. It's never the wrong time to call on Toad. Early or late he's always the same fellow. Always good-tempered, always glad to see you, always sorry when you go!' `He must be a very nice animal,' observed the Mole, as he got into the boat and took the sculls, while the Rat settled himself comfortably in the stern.
`He is indeed the best of animals,' replied Rat. `So simple, so good-natured, and so affectionate. Perhaps he's not very clever -- we can't all be geniuses; and it may be that he is both boastful and conceited. But he has got some great qualities, has Toady.'

Rounding a bend in the river, they came in sight of a handsome, dignified old house of mellowed red brick, with well-kept lawns reaching down to the water's edge.

`There's Toad Hall,' said the Rat; `and that creek on the left, where the notice-board says, "Private. No landing allowed," leads to his boat-house, where we'll leave the boat. The stables are over there to the right. That's the banqueting-hall you're looking at now -- very old, that is. Toad is rather rich, you know, and this is really one of the nicest houses in these parts, though we never admit as much to Toad.'

They glided up the creek, and the Mole slipped his sculls as they passed into the shadow of a large boat-house. Here they saw many handsome boats, slung from the cross beams or hauled up on a slip, but none in the water; and the place had an unused and a deserted air.

The Rat looked around him. `I understand,' said he. `Boating is played out. He's tired of it, and done with it. I wonder what new fad he has taken up now? Come along and let's look him up. We shall hear all about it quite soon enough.'

They disembarked, and strolled across the gay flower-decked lawns in search of Toad, whom they presently happened upon resting in a wicker garden-chair, with a pre-occupied expression of face, and a large map spread out on his knees.

`Hooray!' he cried, jumping up on seeing them, `this is splendid!' He shook the paws of both of them warmly, never waiting for an introduction to the Mole. `How kind of you!' he went on, dancing round them. `I was just going to send a boat down the river for you, Ratty, with strict orders that you were to be fetched up here at once, whatever you were doing. I want you badly -- both of you. Now what will you take? Come inside and have something! You don't know how lucky it is, your turning up just now!'

`Let's sit quiet a bit, Toady!' said the Rat, throwing himself into an easy chair, while the Mole took another by the side of him and made some civil remark about Toad's `delightful residence.'
`Finest house on the whole river,' cried Toad boisterously. `Or anywhere else, for that matter,' he could not help adding.

Here the Rat nudged the Mole. Unfortunately the Toad saw him do it, and turned very red. There was a moment's painful silence. Then Toad burst out laughing. `All right, Ratty,' he said. `It's only my way, you know. And it's not such a very bad house, is it? You know you rather like it yourself. Now, look here. Let's be sensible. You are the very animals I wanted. You've got to help me. It's most important!'

`It's about your rowing, I suppose,' said the Rat, with an innocent air. `You're getting on fairly well, though you splash a good bit still. With a great deal of patience, and any quantity of coaching, you may -- -- ' `O, pooh! boating!' interrupted the Toad, in great disgust. Silly boyish amusement. I've given that up long ago. Sheer waste of time, that's what it is. It makes me downright sorry to see you fellows, who ought to know better, spending all your energies in that aimless manner. No, I've discovered the real thing, the only genuine occupation for a life time. I propose to devote the remainder of mine to it, and can only regret the wasted years that lie behind me, squandered in trivialities. Come with me, dear Ratty, and your amiable friend also, if he will be so very good, just as far as the stable-yard, and you shall see what you shall see!'

He led the way to the stable-yard accordingly, the Rat following with a most mistrustful expression; and there, drawn out of the coach house into the open, they saw a gipsy caravan, shining with newness, painted a canary-yellow picked out with green, and red wheels.

`There you are!' cried the Toad, straddling and expanding himself. `There's real life for you, embodied in that little cart. The open road, the dusty highway, the heath, the common, the hedgerows, the rolling downs! Camps, villages, towns, cities! Here to-day, up and off to somewhere else to-morrow! Travel, change, interest, excitement! The whole world before you, and a horizon that's always changing! And mind! this is the very finest cart of its sort that was ever built, without any exception. Come inside and look at the arrangements. Planned 'em all myself, I did!'

The Mole was tremendously interested and excited, and followed him eagerly up the steps and into the interior of the caravan. The Rat only snorted and thrust his hands deep into his pockets, remaining where he was.

It was indeed very compact and comfortable. Little sleeping bunks -- a little table that folded up against the wall -- a cooking-stove, lockers, bookshelves, a bird-cage with a bird in it; and pots, pans, jugs and kettles of every size and variety.

`All complete!' said the Toad triumphantly, pulling open a locker. `You see -- biscuits, potted lobster, sardines -- everything you can possibly want. Soda-water here -- baccy there -- letter-paper, bacon, jam, cards and dominoes -- you'll find,' he continued, as they descended the steps again, `you'll find that nothing what ever has been forgotten, when we make our start this afternoon.'

`I beg your pardon,' said the Rat slowly, as he chewed a straw, `but did I overhear you say something about "we," and "start," and "this afternoon?"'

`Now, you dear good old Ratty,' said Toad, imploringly, `don't begin talking in that stiff and sniffy sort of way, because you know you've got to come. I can't possibly manage without you, so please consider it settled, and don't argue -- it's the one thing I can't stand. You surely don't mean to stick to your dull fusty old river all your life, and just live in a hole in a bank, and boat? I want to show you the world! I'm going to make an animal of you, my boy!'

`I don't care,' said the Rat, doggedly. `I'm not coming, and that's flat. And I am going to stick to my old river, and live in a hole, and boat, as I've always done. And what's more, Mole's going to stick me and do as I do, aren't you, Mole?'

`Of course I am,' said the Mole, loyally. `I'll always stick to you, Rat, and what you say is to be -- has got to be. All the same, it sounds as if it might have been -- well, rather fun, you know!' he added, wistfully. Poor Mole! The Life Adventurous was so new a thing to him, and so thrilling; and this fresh aspect of it was so tempting; and he had fallen in love at first sight with the canary-coloured cart and all its little fitments.

The Rat saw what was passing in his mind, and wavered. He hated disappointing people, and he was fond of the Mole, and would do almost anything to oblige him. Toad was watching both of them closely.

`Come along in, and have some lunch,' he said, diplomatically, `and we'll talk it over. We needn't decide anything in a hurry. Of course, I don't really care. I only want to give pleasure to you fellows. "Live for others!" That's my motto in life.'

During luncheon -- which was excellent, of course, as everything at Toad Hall always was -- the Toad simply let himself go. Disregarding the Rat, he proceeded to play upon the inexperienced Mole as on a harp. Naturally a voluble animal, and always mastered by his imagination, he painted the prospects of the trip and the joys of the open life and the road side in such glowing colours that the Mole could hardly sit in his chair for excitement. Somehow, it soon seemed taken for granted by all three of them that the trip was a settled thing; and the Rat, though still unconvinced in his mind, allowed his good-nature to over-ride his personal objections. He could not bear to disappoint his two friends, who were already deep in schemes and anticipations, planning out each day's separate occupation for several weeks ahead.

When they were quite ready, the now triumphant Toad led his companions to the paddock and set them to capture the old grey horse, who, without having been consulted, and to his own extreme annoyance, had been told off by Toad for the dustiest job in this dusty expedition. He frankly preferred the paddock, and took a deal of catching. Meantime Toad packed the lockers still tighter with necessaries, and hung nosebags, nets of onions, bundles of hay, and baskets from the bottom of the cart. At last the horse was caught and harnessed, and they set off, all talking at once, each animal either trudging by the side of the cart or sitting on the shaft, as the humour took him. It was a golden afternoon. The smell of the dust they kicked up was rich and satisfying; out of thick orchards on either side the road, birds called and whistled to them cheerily; good-natured wayfarers, passing them, gave them `Good-day,' or stopped to say nice things about their beautiful cart; and rabbits, sitting at their front doors in the hedgerows, held up their fore-paws, and said, `O my! O my! O my!'
Late in the evening, tired and happy and miles from home, they drew up on a remote common far from habitations, turned the horse loose to graze, and ate their simple supper sitting on the grass by the side of the cart. Toad talked big about all he was going to do in the days to come, while stars grew fuller and larger all around them, and a yellow moon, appearing suddenly and silently from nowhere in particular, came to keep them company and listen to their talk. At last they turned in to their little bunks in the cart; and Toad, kicking out his legs, sleepily said, `Well, good night, you fellows! This is the real life for a gentleman! Talk about your old river!'

`I don't talk about my river,' replied the patient Rat. `You know I don't, Toad. But I think about it,' he added pathetically, in a lower tone: `I think about it -- all the time!'

The Mole reached out from under his blanket, felt for the Rat's paw in the darkness, and gave it a squeeze. `I'll do whatever you like, Ratty,' he whispered. `Shall we run away to-morrow morning, quite early -- very early -- and go back to our dear old hole on the river?'

`No, no, we'll see it out,' whispered back the Rat. `Thanks awfully, but I ought to stick by Toad till this trip is ended. It wouldn't be safe for him to be left to himself. It won't take very long. His fads never do. Good night!'

The end was indeed nearer than even the Rat suspected.

After so much open air and excitement the Toad slept very soundly, and no amount of shaking could rouse him out of bed next morning. So the Mole and Rat turned to, quietly and manfully, and while the Rat saw to the horse, and lit a fire, and cleaned last night's cups and platters, and got things ready for breakfast, the Mole trudged off to the nearest village, a long way off, for milk and eggs and various necessaries the Toad had, of course, forgotten to provide. The hard work had all been done, and the two animals were resting, thoroughly exhausted, by the time Toad appeared on the scene, fresh and gay, remarking what a pleasant easy life it was they were all leading now, after the cares and worries and fatigues of housekeeping at home.

They had a pleasant ramble that day over grassy downs and along narrow by-lanes, and camped as before, on a common, only this time the two guests took care that Toad should do his fair share of work. In consequence, when the time came for starting next morning, Toad was by no means so rapturous about the simplicity of the primitive life, and indeed attempted to resume his place in his bunk, whence he was hauled by force. Their way lay, as before, across country by narrow lanes, and it was not till the afternoon that they came out on the high-road, their first high-road; and there disaster, fleet and unforeseen, sprang out on them -- disaster momentous indeed to their expedition, but simply overwhelming in its effect on the after-career of Toad.

They were strolling along the high-road easily, the Mole by the horse's head, talking to him, since the horse had complained that he was being frightfully left out of it, and nobody considered him in the least; the Toad and the Water Rat walking behind the cart talking together -- at least Toad was talking, and Rat was saying at intervals, `Yes, precisely; and what did you say to him?' -- and thinking all the time of something very different, when far behind them they heard a faint warning hum; like the drone of a distant bee. Glancing back, they saw a small cloud of dust, with a dark centre of energy, advancing on them at incredible speed, while from out the dust a faint `Poop-poop!' wailed like an uneasy animal in pain. Hardly regarding it, they turned to resume their conversation, when in an instant (as it seemed) the peaceful scene was changed, and with a blast of wind and a whirl of sound that made them jump for the nearest ditch, It was on them! The `Poop-poop' rang with a brazen shout in their ears, they had a moment's glimpse of an interior of glittering plate-glass and rich morocco, and the magnificent motor-car, immense, breath-snatching, passionate, with its pilot tense and hugging his wheel, possessed all earth and air for the fraction of a second, flung an enveloping cloud of dust that blinded and enwrapped them utterly, and then dwindled to a speck in the far distance, changed back into a droning bee once more.

The old grey horse, dreaming, as he plodded along, of his quiet paddock, in a new raw situation such as this simply abandoned himself to his natural emotions. Rearing, plunging, backing steadily, in spite of all the Mole's efforts at his head, and all the Mole's lively language directed at his better feelings, he drove the cart backwards towards the deep ditch at the side of the road. It wavered an instant -- then there was a heartrending crash -- and the canary-coloured cart, their pride and their joy, lay on its side in the ditch, an irredeemable wreck.

The Rat danced up and down in the road, simply transported with passion. `You villains!' he shouted, shaking both fists, `You scoundrels, you highwaymen, you -- you -- roadhogs! -- I'll have the law of you! I'll report you! I'll take you through all the Courts!' His home-sickness had quite slipped away from him, and for the moment he was the skipper of the canary-coloured vessel driven on a shoal by the reckless jockeying of rival mariners, and he was trying to recollect all the fine and biting things he used to say to masters of steam-launches when their wash, as they drove too near the bank, used to flood his parlour-carpet at home.

Toad sat straight down in the middle of the dusty road, his legs stretched out before him, and stared fixedly in the direction of the disappearing motor-car. He breathed short, his face wore a placid satisfied expression, and at intervals he faintly murmured `Poop-poop!'

The Mole was busy trying to quiet the horse, which he succeeded in doing after a time. Then he went to look at the cart, on its side in the ditch. It was indeed a sorry sight. Panels and windows smashed, axles hopelessly bent, one wheel off, sardine-tins scattered over the wide world, and the bird in the bird-cage sobbing pitifully and calling to be let out.

The Rat came to help him, but their united efforts were not sufficient to right the cart. `Hi! Toad!' they cried. `Come and bear a hand, can't you!' The Toad never answered a word, or budged from his seat in the road; so they went to see what was the matter with him. They found him in a sort of a trance, a happy smile on his face, his eyes still fixed on the dusty wake of their destroyer. At intervals he was still heard to murmur `Poop-poop!'

The Rat shook him by the shoulder. `Are you coming to help us, Toad?' he demanded sternly.

`Glorious, stirring sight!' murmured Toad, never offering to move. `The poetry of motion! The real way to travel! The only way to travel! Here to-day -- in next week to-morrow! Vil-lages skipped, towns and cities jumped -- always somebody else's horizon! O bliss! O poop-poop! O my! O my!'

`O stop being an ass, Toad!' cried the Mole despairingly.

`And to think I never knew!' went on the Toad in a dreamy monotone. `All those wasted years that lie behind me, I never knew, never even dreamt! But now -- but now that I know, now that I fully realise! O what a flowery track lies spread before me, henceforth! What dust-clouds shall spring up behind me as I speed on my reckless way! What carts I shall fling carelessly into the ditch in the wake of my magnificent onset! Horrid little carts -- common carts -- canary-coloured carts!'

`What are we to do with him?' asked the Mole of the Water Rat.

`Nothing at all,' replied the Rat firmly. `Because there is really nothing to be done. You see, I know him from of old. He is now possessed. He has got a new craze, and it always takes him that way, in its first stage. He'll continue like that for days now, like an animal walking in a happy dream, quite useless for all practical purposes. Never mind him. Let's go and see what there is to be done about the cart.'

A careful inspection showed them that, even if they succeeded in righting it by themselves, the cart would travel no longer. The axles were in a hopeless state, and the missing wheel was shattered into pieces.

The Rat knotted the horse's reins over his back and took him by the head, carrying the bird cage and its hysterical occupant in the other hand. `Come on!' he said grimly to the Mole. `It's five or six miles to the nearest town, and we shall just have to walk it. The sooner we make a start the better.'

`But what about Toad?' asked the Mole anxiously, as they set off together. `We can't leave him here, sitting in the middle of the road by himself, in the distracted state he's in! It's not safe. Supposing another Thing were to come along?'

`O, bother Toad,' said the Rat savagely; `I've done with him!'

They had not proceeded very far on their way, however, when there was a pattering of feet behind them, and Toad caught them up and thrust a paw inside the elbow of each of them; still breathing short and staring into vacancy.

`Now, look here, Toad!' said the Rat sharply: `as soon as we get to the town, you'll have to go straight to the police-station, and see if they know anything about that motor-car and who it belongs to, and lodge a complaint against it. And then you'll have to go to a blacksmith's or a wheelwright's and arrange for the cart to be fetched and mended and put to rights. It'll take time, but it's not quite a hopeless smash. Meanwhile, the Mole and I will go to an inn and find comfortable rooms where we can stay till the cart's ready, and till your nerves have recovered their shock.'

`Police-station! Complaint!'murmured Toad dreamily. `Me complain of that beautiful, that heavenly vision that has been vouchsafed me! Mend the cart! I've done with carts for ever. I never want to see the cart, or to hear of it, again. O, Ratty! You can't think how obliged I am to you for consenting to come on this trip! I wouldn't have gone without you, and then I might never have seen that -- that swan, that sunbeam, that thunderbolt! I might never have heard that entrancing sound, or smelt that bewitching smell! I owe it all to you, my best of friends!'

The Rat turned from him in despair. `You see what it is?' he said to the Mole, addressing him across Toad's head: `He's quite hopeless. I give it up -- when we get to the town we'll go to the railway station, and with luck we may pick up a train there that'll get us back to riverbank to-night. And if ever you catch me going a-pleasuring with this provoking animal again!'

He snorted, and during the rest of that weary trudge addressed his remarks exclusively to Mole.
On reaching the town they went straight to the station and deposited Toad in the second-class waiting-room, giving a porter twopence to keep a strict eye on him. They then left the horse at an inn stable, and gave what directions they could about the cart and its contents. Eventually, a slow train having landed them at a station not very far from Toad Hall, they escorted the spell-bound, sleep-walking Toad to his door, put him inside it, and instructed his housekeeper to feed him, undress him, and put him to bed. Then they got out their boat from the boat-house, sculled down the river home, and at a very late hour sat down to supper in their own cosy riverside parlour, to the Rat's great joy and contentment.

The following evening the Mole, who had risen late and taken things very easy all day, was sitting on the bank fishing, when the Rat, who had been looking up his friends and gossiping, came strolling along to find him. `Heard the news?' he said. `There's nothing else being talked about, all along the river bank. Toad went up to Town by an early train this morning. And he has ordered a large and very expensive motor-car.'

Thursday, August 04, 2005

The Titanium Model Posted by Picasa

A Light, A Light!

Feels like a miracle, but it seems I've managed to crowbar a weekend away from here, and it will start in a mere 8 days. Just a long weekend, but the last one I had was February, 2004, so I hope readers can imagine the thrill. I'll be visiting friends and extended family in Seattle, staying for much of it on Mercer Island (where, if I get the urge, I may try to track down Michael Medved and his guru, see what they're up to....), but for the most part trying to recharge. My island hosts are wisely getting out of town before the Seattle Seafair hits them (we are talking unlimited hydroplanes, Blue Angels overhead, transit and cover). We'll rendezvous after that has passed.

Hope to get some more substantive posts up before I leave - I can feed off the coming energy. And I intend to finish reading some books up there - real joy, not to have your ear cocked for a thready, abusive voice day and night.

More later.

Monday, August 01, 2005

On to Turtle Bay!!! Posted by Picasa


I was off to pick up meds this morning, but just before I left, I heard the news of the Bolton recess appointment. Grand. Stupid. When I got back, I checked Steve Clemons's TNW, where Charles Brown gives an excellent rundown on the consequences. There are some other posts there with hearty threads attached, so go poke around.

However, while away I was able to catch up with Tony Judt in the 7/14 NYRB (it's free online). He closes with these lines:

"If the US ceases to be credible as a force for good, the world will not come to a stop. Others will still protest and undertake good works in the hope of American support. But the world will become that much safer for tyrants and crooks—at home and abroad.
For the US isn't credible today: its reputation and standing are at their lowest point in history and will not soon recover. And there is no substitute on the horizon: the Europeans will not rise to the challenge. The bleak outcome of the recent referendums in France and the Netherlands seems likely to have eliminated the European Union as an effective international political actor for some years to come. The cold war is indeed behind us, but so too is the post–cold war moment of hope. The international anarchy so painstakingly averted by two generations of enlightened American statesmen may soon engulf us again. President Bush sees "freedom" on the march. I wish I shared his optimism. I see a bad moon rising."

It's an excellent piece - depressing but clear-eyed. Dated only six weeks ago, and today's appointment merely reinforces his argument.