Monday, July 31, 2006

The way running shoes are designed to look is changing in a basic way, so looking down in a walking city crowd produces more patches than in the past of strong colors.

Orange and bright greens and such colors as that that used to be confined to trim on running shoes now sometimes engulf the whole shoe above the sole. Walk jolly.
Oh joy! I have found "The First Rumpole Omnibus" at the library. I enjoyed much the second and third Rumpole omnibi so finding the first is good.

They are collections of short stories by John Mortimer, a British lawyer, based on episodes of the Rumpole of the Bailey TV show, on PBS in the USA.

I cannot stand to watch the show because the main character grates on me. But reading his accounts of his cases I enjoy.

There isn't any of that fictional defense lawyer thing where all his clients are innocent, a la Perry Mason. He makes it clear he depends on the Timson family of small time criminals for support, though he only tells us in detail about Timson cases (rarity is implied) where they are factually innocent.

He mostly talks about more interesting cases than the Timsons and people who are factually innocent and found innocent, though there is one case where the post-trial ending makes it clear that Rumpole has successfully defending a respectable looking serial murderer. Maybe stuff like that is why he drinks so much.

On the page I enjoy him and how much he enjoys his work. His story is he hates the law and loves performing in the courtroom

Having read more than half of all Rumpole stories I should maybe give the TV show a second chance.

It was interesting to be that when I was in jury selection for a criminal trial, the lawyer annoyed me in almost exactly the same way that Rumpole annoys me on TV.

Big baby. Big baby wants attention. But hey, if you can find a societal use for that, I guess it's all to the good. I mean, you gotta have criminal defense lawyers and if part of the pay off for them is making points of law to get attention like baby hitting his spoon on the high chair tray to get attention, it works, really, for everyone.

"Presumption of innocence is the golden thread that runs through British justice." I though Rumpole said that all the time, and I agree, and think it's also golden in US justice.

**So it's interesting that in the first collection of Rumpole stories, "Rumpole of the Bailey" which I have now read after reading dozens of later stories, he never says that.

One reason is probably that the author, John Mortimer, hadn't thought of having Rumpole say that yet.

Another reason, I think, is that Mortimer was in a different mood when he wrote the first stories--a little more looking at the down side.

In the first series of stories, Rumpole defends a man charged with rape and attacks the woman on the stand, having found out varous things about her, like that she's been treated for mental illness.

The man is found guilty anyway (I think that is Mortimer intervening to make himself feel better) because he doesn't do very well on the stand. Here the good news is that Rumpole's client is found guilty, making it different than a lot of lawyer stories.

We the readers never know if it was rape. They did have sex. British law at that time was that rape depended on the man's intent. (Wonder if that has changed.) The wishy washy in daily life, frustrated, respectable charged rapist can't be strong about anything, including what his intent was. So we never know if it was rape in anybody's sense.

But we are reminded of unappealing things defense attorneys do.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

It's difficult to learn to do nothing here.

There is a bias toward doing something, the bigger the better. Noise=Important.

Inside what feels like nothing, to a mind trained here, there are many subtle somethings.

These are often bit things to do, but things to let move through, things to bless as they pass.

If busy doing what is labeled something around here, I can run over this subtle level and smash some possibilities.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

In case of actual peace, there would be more connections. Which would be, in itself, a reason for a person scared of connecting to start a war.

When people in general are getting onwith each other, a certain kind of leader can feel left out.
Walking briskly is fine. Being in a big old hurry, no.
Rick Harte of Mission of Burma, a punk band, talked about how they recorded their music, in "EQ," a magazine about recording music.

"The band was very loud at this point. Not Blue Cheer loud, but loud, I wanted an environment where these tones could be recorded and where the ambient information would be available, so the idea was to record the room and to record the band, and the way to do this was in a big, accurate room."

So find yourself what is, for you, an accurate room, big as fits, be you in detail and loud as you want. Add yourself to the planetary ambience.

--Quote from an interview by Nick Blakey in "EQ: Defining the Future of Recording," July, 2005.
The man was dressed in dirty clothes, standing on the street corner, talking about track lighting.

Of the much he was saying, "track lighting" was almost all I could decipher. "Track lighting" and anger came through clearly.

I don't know if he was a person naturally interested in track lighting. Or if track lighting was a good symbol of what he was interested in. Track lighting is sometimes used to emphasize what is valued, and he didn't look valued by himself or others.

Whatever track lighting was to him, I wish we'd set this whole thing up so that he could be interested in what he's interested in a way that might help the rest of us, instead of repelling us.

Friday, July 28, 2006

There are four cross quarter days, days half way between the solstices and equinoxes.

Vicki Noble says that we think we should do holidays, where as in fact, real holidays, we should wait for them to do us.

She says cross quarter days are especially powerful at doing us, changing us in ways we don't expect.

The most noticed around here is the cross quarter day between the Fall Equinox and the Winter Solstice, Hallooween and the Day of the Dead here. It's about death, the dead, the dying of the year, people who have died. All Saint's Days is November 1st, for all the dead people. Halloween which has lost much holiness showing is the day before. The Day of the Dead is the day after and people often make altars honoring their loved dead, especially the ones who died in the last twelve months. Also the Day of the Dead is the occasion for a lot of skeleton humor, little skeletons doing everything. Death is the ultimate joke--we think we're so important.

The next cross quarter day the 1st or 2nd of February used to be called Beltane and sometimes still is by modern pagans. It lives on as Groundhog's Day, where the Groundhog is supposed to prolong the hard times by being scared of his shadow, if there is a shadow to see.

It's about intiation. Iniation is scary, and the groundhog is scared. The movie "Groundhog's Day" is about a guy doing the same boring day over and over until iniation takes--he becomes a better person.

The next cross quarter day, May Day, is the day between the Spring Equinox and Summer Solsitice. It used to be about everybody going outside and making love to remind nature to be fertile. It lives most lively now as a worker's day, workers having decent enough lives that they feel like having fun.

The next cross quarter day, coming right up, is Lammas, August 1st. It is in honor of first harvest, early fruits of the harvest before the big harvest day on September 21, Fall Equinox.

I don't really get Lammas, which doesn't seem to be observed anymore except by modern pagans, but here it comes.

I hold myself ready

Thursday, July 27, 2006

A broken heart can heal if heard.
Sometimes I have thought that words have been used so much to be inaccurate that all you can do is forget words.

But under words is reality, which somehow pushes through words sometimes.

Humans wanting to use words is a big part of reality. Whatever my mood, words are in my DNA, part of what my wet ancestor crawled out of the ancient ocean onto land to evolve and get to.

When I'm bummed and cynical then I forget that in addition to lying, words have been used always by people trying to say their best truth, trying to connect what they best know to someone else. That blessing clings to words as much as the lies, maybe more.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Shakespeare married when he was 18 a woman, Anne Hathaway, who was 26 and pregnant.

Almost everything we know about Shakespeare's life we know from public records and business receipts and stuff like that. He didn't journal. The first sentence above is known from parish records.

He mostly wrote plays which he didn't want published and which weren't published in his lifetime with his permission. He and the companies he worked in, which were like coops, he was like a co-owner, didn't want plays published because they considered them like trade secrets. They didn't want them available for other companies to use.

In his lifetime his plays, some of them were published, against his desire, with varying degrees of accuracy--these publications are called by scholars now "good quartos" and "bad quartos" depending on how the scholar feels about their accuracy.

Some people think someone other than Shakespeare wrote the plays, usually an aristocrat who had to be secretive because of the low reputation of the theatre.

I think that whether or not people are into this theory is heavily related to their class background. Both of my parent's were the first in the families to go to college, and I think Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare. That's the way it goes. Because the assumption is that someone with no college from a middling background couldn't be that smart. I assume otherwise.

The plays of Shakespeare were published by his friends and company members when he was dead, in a book called a folio, after its size. The unauthorized quartos published in his lifetime were also named after their size--smaller than the later, way more official folio.

Mostly Shakespeare wrote plays; it looks like that was his preference, though we have no words from him on that. We just have what he did--mostly plays.

During a time when the theatres in London were closed because of plays, he wrote a long poem, Venus and Adonis.

The people who read the poem would have already known the plot.

Adonis was very good-looking. Venus, the goddess of love, fell in love with him. He died while boar hunting and she was very sad.

In the version of this story by the guy who was married at 18 to a woman who was 26, the first part of the story is fairly funny.

Here's Venus, on top of Adonis, saying, at length, you are so beautiful...

He talks must less, but mostly says, I wanna go play sports with the guys.

The goddess of love is truly all over him and he keeps saying, Boarhunting with the guys, gotta do it.

**** 1

The vision is of a very large, beautiful to herself woman lying on top up this guy who isn't responding physically at all.

Adonis in this poem feels like maybe he's never going to be interested in women or maybe he is just too young to be interested in sex. Maybe women later, but not this woman now.

The feeling is also that this guy isn't getting enough sleep to be in good shape to engage in a
dangerous sport. Venus is very talking.

When Shakespeare wrote plays he couldn't write love making, because of censorship from the Master of Revels, who worked for the government and had to approve of everything.

In this poem he had a chance to present lovemaking, since it wouldn't be presented physically like a play and didn't have the same level of censorship.

But what he presented wasn't exactly lovemaking. Lots of time with two naked people horizontal but a real lack of mutual interest.

Adonis feels like he is technically old enough to get it on with Venus, but psychologically know, wanna shoot some baskets.

Except shooting baskets is not, in itself, life threatening. Trying to kill of boar is. The boar knows it's him or the hunters and has big tusks and is not ready to die.

Adonis wasn't ready to die either. He was really young. But somtimes people die of being really young even if they are not ready to die.

*** 2

The boar got him, as he had too, since that was the ancient story. In this version, I blame Venus quite a bit because she kept him up talking at him.

Being stuck in the little town you grew up in is not the same as death, but can feel similar to the young.

Maybe Adonis' lack of response to Venus was a Shakespeare fantasy of his life. If I had not responded physically, no pregnancy, no marriage, no kid.

In spite of all those things, Shakespeare got out of the little town anyway and got himself to London, we know not how. We just know he was there and successful by his mid twenties.

Successful enough for poor old Richard Greene to be jealous of him. Richard Greene was a playwright who was there before Shakespeare and when Shakespeare came. Why Richard Greene is remembered would not please him. He is remembered for his snooty written remark about Shakespeare that is the first record of Shakespeare being in London.
The white plate isn't really white, reflecting lightly but truly the blue sky outside. The crumbs on the very light blue plate are golden because they are backlit by the ambient light from the great city outdoors.

The crumbs shine on blue like an tiny planetarium as the plate sits on the windowsill of a cafe.
The depth of the universe, and the value of the universe, and the meaning of the universe, and what you're going to do today.

In the burning heart of stars, molecules are waiting for you to connect with what's right here in the way that only you can.

When you touch what's exactly right for you your way, the dance of that instant between the stars and you is invisibly, majestically complete.
It works just as well, and it's less dramatic.

Monday, July 24, 2006

There are vines, and there are oranges, and there is lushness, right here on this planet, the one we're dancing with.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

A man in the BART station was singing and playing guitar.

A child in a stroller, as soon as he could hear the man, started listening in great detail, looking much older than he was. It felt like the child was not a musician in the making, but a musician already made, choosing his instrument, choosing his musical style, taking in available music like food.
To say as little as possible, all of it "yes."
On the fifth pollution prevention Spare the Air day this summer, the fifth day of free public transportation, I heard a Muni station agent say, responding to a customer question, that on Spare the Air days there are a lot of people who never ride transit and have no idea how to do anything, so she answers their questions, and she works harder on Spare the Air days than on any other day.

She said this very pleasantly and not like working harder was a problem.

That is worth some big bucks, training people to use public transportation, giving them actual personal experience that it works, building a breathable future through education.

Friday, July 21, 2006

A lot of people dancing.

Where are they--inside or out?
What time of day is it?
What time in history is it?

A lot of people dancing.

What are the wearing?
How are they moving their bodies?

A lot of people dancing.

Can you hear music?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The fifty stars also stand for fifty people you know who are doing good work sewing us all together.

Together works better for us walking down the street. Apart and scared can work better for politicians wanting votes on a particular day. This is a problem.
Ernest Hemingway liked to dress up as a man. He accessorized sometimes with a glass of alcohol, sometimes with a rifle that he used to kill animals and himself.

Grace Hall Hemingway, his mother, liked to pretend her two first children were twins--the son and daughter were about a year apart, Ernest was younger. His mother dressed them the same until they went to school, usually as girls. Sometimes she dressed them identically as boys.

It wasn't totally unusual for boys to be dressed as girls at that time, when they were young, but it wasn't too usual either. Usually if it was done it stopped when the child was about 18 months old or about 4. Going on till school time was long.

Ernest Hemingway lived longer than his father, Clarence Edmond, called Ed, Hemingway. His father killed himself with a rifle when he was 56. Ernest Hemingway killed himself with a rifle when he was 61.

They had lots of rifles to choose from, they were outdoorsy.


Outdoorsy and guns almost always went together back then.

When Ernest Hemingway was wounded in World War I, he was engaged in handing out candy bars to troops at the front. This was clearly dangerous--he got wounded. He was working for the Red Cross. He was a non-combatant. He didn't carry a rifle.

A shell exploded near where he was and he was hurt to the extent of limping with a cane months later back in the United States.

He wanted to go to that war that happened when he was a young man but he didn't want to get in a big old hairy awful place, so he volunteered for the Red Cross. I would say that was an intelligent move, but would he?

Men who served in the trenches in France, slogging in the mud that was also a graveyard, living in holes in the ground next to dead people they had once known were often messed up in their minds by that experience, their minds if no place else. They were however cured of the idea of a strong relationship between guns, violence, war, and being a real man.

Ernest Hemingway didn't take the cure. He served in the American Red Cross in Italy, which didn't have that kind of combat that consisted of making and living in a graveyard.

He spent his life trying to find the combination of clothes and risks taken that would make him be a real man.

But, dude, it's a fake category.

Once there was some hoohah in the newspapers about how Senator John McCain had behaved when he was a prisoner of war for years in North Vietnam.

How do you become a prisoner of war in North Vietnam? By using very expensive technology to drop explosives on a poor country. That wasn't what the controversy was about.

The controversy was something about had he been maximally brave every second of the years and years he was a prisoner.

One of his fellow prisoners said, "We weren't John Wayne in there, you know, none of us" or words to that effect. As if being the kind of tough, imperturbable movie hero John Wayne portrayed was an achievable option.

John Wayne, the human, never got near combat.

Wayne and his screenwriters and directors made this believable to some utopian idea of man that didn't have to exist in the real world.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Race is a bogus category with real consequences.
It's scary to be intense in a society that matter of factly pretends it isn't.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Some men have to talk a great deal about the substances their bodies can emit because their bodies can't emit humans and that makes them sad.

Men have no choice about their bodies' inability in this area. They can't lift or run or fight their way around it.

That is part of the reason why some men feel strongly that women should not have a choice in the other direction. "If I'm stuck with what my body can't do, you have to be stuck with what your body can do."
It's a matter of healing, and healing takes as long as it takes--the long, slow yes.

Monday, July 17, 2006

I promise you that I know less than I know. Really. Really I can act like I know less than I know, and if I do it long enough I'll really know less. Things will go better for me then, won't they?
The ground is covered with slight curves under the eucalyptus tree.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

"All days in Antigua must be the same, people count on it, it is for this reason they go there, it is for this reason they leave there. . . "

Jamaica Kincaid wrote that in her book, "My Brother." She grew up in Antigua, and over the fierce resistance of her mother, used her school smarts to get out of there. She lives now in Vermont (different, or what?) and writes beautifully.

When she's writing about her brother, who died of AIDS, one thing she said is he never saw a season change, because he never left Antigua.

Jamaica Kincaid writes phenomenally well. She writes about two things: her family, who are still in Antigua, and gardening. One time a friend of hers said, "Why don't you stop writing about your mother, and write about gardening? You like to garden so much." Hence the second topic.

She writes books of gorgeous writing that are either heavy (her family) or about something I'm not too interested in (gardening). It sort of doesn't matter what she writes about she writes so well. I mean, it matters that what she writes about matters to her, or she wouldn't write so well, but for me, I'll take her topics, whatever they may be.

Her books are fairly short. Her book about her brother is about 200 pages. I read it in one sitting because there was no evident reason to stop.

I am more blown away by her non-fiction than her novels. Her novels I can stop reading easily and take a big break before finishing them. Her non-fiction is not at all easy to put down because she is so demanding of precision and beauty of herself when she's writing that's it's hard to leave the place where such a pure effort is going on and succeeding.

I think her non-fiction is harder to leave because she is able to make her very exact own relationships and follow no rules made by someone else.

When she was a child in Antigua every moment she could she read novels, usually nineteenth
century British novels. Her mother thought she was wasting her time. In fact, she was learning her job, being a writer.

I think in her novels those nineteenth century folk and how they think things fit together are a bit too present which doesn't leave the best amount of room for her and how she thinks different parts of life relate.

On numbered page 5, actually the third page, of "My Brother," she tells of something that happened to her brother the day after he was born.

"He was wrapped in a blanket and placed close to her [his mother], and they both fell asleep. That very next day, while they were both asleep, her snuggled in teh warmth of his mother's body, an army of red ants came in through the window and attacked him. My mother heard her child crying, and when she awaoke, she found him covered with red ants. If he had been alone, it is believed they would have killed him. This was an incident no one ever told my brother, and incident that everyone else in my family has forgotten, except me. One day during his illness, when my mother and I were standing over him, looking at him--he was asleep and so didn't know we were doing so--I reminded my mother of the ants almost devouring him and she looked at me, her eyes narrowing in suspicion, and she said, 'What a memory you have!'--prehaps the thing she most dislikes about me. But I was only wondering if it had any meaning that some small red things had almost killed him from the outside shortly after he was born and that now some small things were killing him from the inside; I don't believe it has any meaning, this is only something a mind like mine would think about."

That is precisely her job--thinking about the things that only a mind like hers would think about. Thinking and remember what has happened and seeing how it feels to her it fits together.

In earlier books, she wrote about how she had a great loving mother until one day all of a sudden for now reason her mother turned on her and has hated her ever since.

In this book, the picture is bigger. The last child, the brother who died of AIDS was one child too many and with his coming, everything fell apart.

Her husband was getting old. He had supported the family as a carpenter and now was getting so he could barely support the old family, much less the new family with another child.

The mother with the new child hated her life, it sounds like, and that came through to Jamaica Kincaid (not the name her mother gave her but names of her choice) as being hated. It worked that way.

In Antigua now, there are many women who could be pregnant who aren't. That's new. When Jamaica Kincaid came back to Antigua after being away for years, people pointed that out to her as a new amazing thing--women who could biologically be pregnant but weren't. The people who told her about it credited one man for that, Dr. Ramsey.

Small places have disadvantages and advantages. Dr. Ramsey has made a huge impact in Antigua. He has probably cause some women to be able to keep being the good mother in the fairy tale instead of, like Jamaica Kincaid's mother, turning from the good mother to someone like the cruel stepmother.

One person can make a big difference in a small place. It is difficult, maybe impossible, for someone who grew up in a small place to stay there and think long, big thoughts that are different than other people's thoughts.

Jamaica Kincaid, like many other writers and thinkers, had to leave her small place of birth to think her own thoughts and write her own words, many of which are about the small place she came from.

James Joyce wrote Dublin only and could never have lived there as an adult. Gabriel Garcia Marquez wrote of the small town he grew up in which is changing its name from the name it had when he lived there to the one he gave it in "One Hundred Years of Solitude."

At the beginning of "One Hundred Years of Solitude" a man is about to be shot by a firing squad and is rememberin his childhood, the first time he saw ice in his tropical little town. We the readers are rooting for the miracle, which occurs. He isn't shot.

After not being shot, he goes on to become a human monster as a general fighting in his country's endless meaningless civil wars. I got confused about what outcome I should have been rooting for back there at the beginning of the book.

At the end of the multiple generation book, in the last sentence the author that in one hundred years no one in his family had had sex with anyone else with love.

I hadn't noticed that in reading the book, not quite like that, so that means, rereading, rethinking.

Life is mysterious and how love happens and doesn't is odd and intense either way--when it happens and when it doesn't. Some people are born to leave their childhood place and spend there lives trying to notice what happened there for themselves, and for all of us. Our lives are wildly different and part of one mystery.

One day early in her brother's life, Jamaica Kincaid was supposed to be watching her brother while her mother tried to make her economically impossible life work out there in the world all day. Kincaid read and ignored him and didn't change his diaper, which was a big old mess at the end of the day.

Unchanged diaper isn't the worst thing that can happen to a kid, but to the mother it didn't seem that way. "She gathered up all her daughters books, took them outside, poured kerosene on them, and burned them.

When Jamaica Kincaid was young, during the part where it seemed that her mother loved her, she would remember parts of things that happened that her mother had forgotten and her mother praised her for that. Later she hated that quality, like she hated the books.

When Kincaid was explaining to her mother why she wouldn't stay in her mother's house when visiting, she told her she was a great mother when her children were sick or in jail, but horribly cruel when they were functioning.

Jamaica Kincaid's books and her memory are how she became independent, strong and herself, and her mother hates them. So there's that, too, not just too many kids.

If one person really figured out the piece of the puzzle that they are, and found a way to tell the rest of us what they knew, we'd all be smarter and know more how to be here.

Jamaica Kincaid is working on that--what was it that happened to her young, and what is happening now. Her efforts make us all smarter if we read her. Reading her isn't hard because she does what she does so beautifully.

Her brother, the one who died of AIDS, didn't do much with his life, spent time in jail for his part in a murder, get very sick and died. (Sick and jail being two things that Jamaica Kincaid said made her mother be kind.) He dreamed of being a famous singer and that if he was women who heard him sing would take off all there clothes and be there for him.

His room where he lived in his mother's house was covered with pictures of famous singers with brown skin.

Jamaica Kincaid has two children in Vermont, a son and daughter. She mentions in "My Brother" that her daughter is good at math and good at singing. Jamaica Kincaid says to her husband, "Does the world need another rather brown singer?" She is not in a place to think about that the musical mind and the mathematical mind are often related, that a mathematically minded musician might be an amazing composer. She's not there at all--she doesn't mention those things.

She does know where she is--in her brother's room with the pictures of the stars. She knows that's the root of the feeling she has about her daughter pursuing her singing. She's somewhat open to thinking about it. Looking at the roots of her thought to get better thoughts.

The friend who suggested that Jamaica Kincaid write about gardening as a change from writing about her mother asked her to please never learn the Latin names of plants.

That friend won one and lost one.

She writes about gardening. She knows the Latin names.

People who are way into plants love the Latin names because they are so precise. Unaffected by local slang and folkways, the Latin names say this plant is exactly this plant no matter where it is or what the person next door calls it. It is what it is.

Jamaica Kincaid wants to know what is going on exactly. What exactly was going on when her mother started to hate her? What was going on with her brother? What is going on with her and her children? How exactly can she be a good mother when the example ingrained in her is so bad?

She seeks to know by seeking to say what is true in precise language. She seeks to know by honoring and saying connections that she feels even if they are connections nobody else makes.

It's sad that her daughter's musical bent is so naturally hard for Kincaid because the precision of Kincaid's language and dedication of effort she brings to saying what is going on and how things are connected makes her language on the page sometimes as beautiful as very good music, written by someone who really understands to deep structure of music.

"And that day that he was buried was not at all unlike the day on which I first saw him lying almost dead in a bed in the Gweneth O'Reilly ward of the Holberton Hospital. All days in Antigua must be the same, people count on it, it is for this reason they go there, it is for this reason they leave there; the days are the same, the sun shines, no rain will fall, the sun rises at around six in the morning, the sun sets at around six in the evening; if this does not remain so, it is a catastrophe; a hurricane can change this, or the coming-awake of a volcano, but Antigua does not have such a thing as a volcano. He died on a sunny day, he was buried on a sunny day."

--Jamaica Kincaid, "My Brother"

Antigua has no volcano, but it is deeply connected to a person who goes down to where the rocks are made and brings them up and presents them to us others in a way that we can see them. So that we can see what hard-earned, painful truth is like when it is also beautiful.
There is as much love in the city as there is asphalt or we couldn't move.

Friday, July 14, 2006

She was carrying flowers and running and looking happy.
The child is walking down the street wearing her hat like a crown because her grandmother walking beside her is listening to her so well.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

There's a big convention at Moscone Center now. I walked through two and a half blocks solid with convention goers before I saw her--the woman, the only woman I saw amid hundreds of men.

She really looked like a convention goer. Every thing about her--her clothes, bag, posture, attitude, confidence, said she was a convention goer and not present as a servant.

How does a woman dress for such an event? Thoughtfully, I bet. Maybe like the famous writer who once said he'd done seven drafts of what he was writing and now he was going to put in the careless ease. "I always put the careless ease in last."

She looked confident, which can't be easy to either be or fake in such a situation, but presumably she has lots of practice.

Conventions at Moscone Center in San Francisco are frequently techie. This one is Semicon, the convention of people who manufacture chips, semiconductors.

Conventions at Moscone tend to be majority male, though the only other one I noticed being this male wasn't techie in that way--it was a surgeon's convention.

The convention at Moscone lately that I noticed being about half and half in gender was the convention of educational researchers. That is, the convention of people who study how to make our excellent wetware function function optimally without surgery.

Education is at once too easy and too difficult to get the kind of attention manufacturing chips does.

One time I read a book of interviews with women scientists--not famous ones, but lots of what you might call line scientists, out there being mid-level scientists day to day.

Several of them remarked that the whole male set-up and history of the sciences determined what kind of questions are asked, and that some kinds of questions just won't be asked becaus of that.

And, they implied, who has time to think about what those missing kinds of questions are? Not them, in a work all the time subculture and sometimes also raising kids. Staring off into the distance wondering precisely what categories are missing and how those categories could be brought in is not what they are going to do.

In many case, the ability to feel in detail what is missing has been trained out of them. Learning to be a high level smart person means being trained to know a lot of preexisting knowledge. It also means being trained to think this way and not that way.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

What is the melting temperature of fear? What is the amount of warmth around a person sufficient to make the fear go away, change form, be no longer a wall?

How to be wise about when that might be a good thing, less wall? How to be not misled just because there is warmth sufficient? Warmth sufficient doesn't always mean safety. How to know?

To have a smart heart is good. It is not automatic.

When the Berlin Wall existed, a German wrote a novel about a man who leaped the Berlin Wall the other way, from west to east, from shiny to grey, from free in daily ways to less free. "The Wall Jumper" (1983) by Peter Schneider is not only an interesting idea but a good read and a tiny but real part of causing the fall of the Wall six year after it came out.

To do something unexpected with a wall is a high calling. To do something unexpected and wise with a wall is an even higher calling.

Monday, July 10, 2006

You are a session player for this moment in the city. You add just the riff that's needed.
Two little birds are hopping toward each other.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

John Russell, in his book "London" talks about how for a time during the second world war his spent his nights in Westminster Abbey.

In 1943, "it was thought desirable for Westminster Abbey to be patrolled during the hours of darkness by men who in one way or another were associated with art and architecture." Russell's connection with art and architecture was knowledgable love.

"It was expected that we would show up at night fall and stay until sunrise. . .Specific duties were never laid down, but it was assumed we could find our way around the Abbey. . .Though awed by our putative role in the defense of the great building, we were untried, untrained, un-led, and unequipped. The idea that a gang of aesthetes could double as paraprofessional fire fighters did us too much honor."

On the other hand, while these lovers of art and architecture patrolled a complex with many exquisite examples of same, nothing happened. No bombs hit. No fires started.

Earlier in the war, when the bombing was heavier, there had been damage--to a stained glass window, to the roof of the library. While these men wandered around, nothing.

Things happen and don't happen for more reasons than we are capable of knowing, but malevolence and randomness might have gotten a tiny push away in a great big building with a small group of people in it who deeply, smartly cared.

--John Russell's well written meditations on the city he loves and its history are illustrated by good and great art--a few superb photographs, but mostly paintings. "London" published by Harry Abrams, so good at beautiful books that aren't shallow.
It's not just this. There's something else.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Someone in the House who is being particularly nasty about immigrants is from Germantown, Wisconsin.

I spent my high school time in Germantown, Ohio. It was partly named after the Battle of Germantown, Pennsylvania, in which the brother of the founder of Germantown, Ohio, died.

It was also named after the fact that the people who founded Germantown, Ohio, were German. The leader, the guy counted as founder, Philip Gunkel, was counted leader partly because he was the only person among the 25 families that started Germantown, Ohio, who spoke English. Obla-di, obla-dah, life went on. When I lived there some people had names like Grossnickel and no one spoke German.

When I lived in Cincinnati, earlier in my childhood, some of the old people talking on porches spoke German, but who care? They were so patriotic vis a vis the USA, which current immigrants are and would be more if the Republicans didn't keep insulting folks.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Surrounded by hidden reasons to rejoice.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

When I ask myself, "what would Gandhi do?" I often do NOT get an answer to the question, "What positive action would Gandhi take in this situation?"

Instead I get valuable reminders about what Gandhi wouldn't do.

Name calling, tit-for-tat, personal attack--these are activities that I have the skills for that Gandhi would eschew.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Walk gently.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Freedom of. . .Freedom for. . . In the novel "A Bend in the River" V. S. Naipul writes from the point of view of a man of South Asian background in Africa.

Comparing the various groups active around him, he says that the difference between the British and everyone else is that the British act exactly like everyone else, with focused and sometimes viscious self-interest, but they want to tell a different story about what they do and put up a statue to themselves after they do it.

Well, yes. That is my country also. During the 1991 Gulf War I talked to a man about how so much depended on young people believing the promises of adventure and doing the pure good thing that war promoters put forth.

He said, "No other demographic group would fall for it. But there are always a lot of them ready to believe."

I can't mention V.S. Naipul without saying he is a phenomenally good writer and awful about Africans and women and maybe other groups I haven't noticed. Part way into a book by him, I'll think I must read everything by him, he's so smart and has been so many places, but then his fist will burst through the pages of the book and hit a woman or an African as hard as he can. Then it's a long time til I read another book by him.

Freedom is a constant struggle. So is accuracy. These struggles are related.
Retreat and wait.
The girl running into the wind was a little older and her face said, "This is cold."

The boy running into the wind was a little younger and his face said, "It's holding me up! I can lean into it! Maybe I can fly!"

The woman walking into the wind behind them, their mother, was carrying a bag of groceries and her face said she'd worked a lot today and she still had a lot of work to do.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Another day, what a gift, why do we get it?

Another day, what a gift, why not?
I can go a long time without visiting the nearby largest ocean in the world.

I am thankful that it visits me every day. The air molecules and water molecules that might have been, not long ago, in Asia or Oceania, move around me all the time, reminding me that I should think as big as the planet, and as small.
The black dog was looking alertly across the green expanse of grass in the park.

I felt like he was going, "Where's my herd of sheep? I've got all this alertness and all this specialized intelligence, but no sheep."