the lastest garden photo exposition: "Raspberry
Story", photos of the ripe raspberries
on my garden vines.
I think I'll have to start again here. I think
I got into a very non-communicative mode here
for a while. Too many angry political feelings.
Too much rage and disgust for digital piracy.
Too much heartache over animal abuse. Started
to get a little morbid. Could be I should only
share pretty little pictures of flowers and grass
try. But there's that book I'm reading that incenses
me yet again: "Dereliction of Duty",
about how a handful of brilliant unconscionable
jerks engineered the war in Viet Nam. I already
knew that but it's very dismaying to read yet
again how few people control events to squander
the lives of others.
Ooops . . .I will try to go back to the pretty
pictures for a while.
likes to think about it but it's a rock solid
fact of life than any of us can die at any moment.
We'd like to think that bad stuff and sudden death
just happens to other people. But no. I always
try to remember that I'm lucky to be alive today
and do not have broken bones and I'm not in agonizing
pain for one reason or another. Because I have
been in the past and one always has to be grateful
for big favors like that.
So yesterday, when it was a gloriously sunny day
at last, I was so happy to be able to
walk to the grocery store with my big Shepherd,
Xena, who was so frisky. What a treat to be able
to just tie her up outside (we all do that around
here - take our dogs to the store where there
is a nice doggie watering trough and waiting area
for us). Then I just sat in the steps of my deck,
with my doggies grouped around me, and listened
to some Spring birdsong, and did nothing for a
while. We should all do that more.
My Tulips are fabulous. I've got tall red ones
and yellow ones and short purple ones. I had TONS
of them. The Daffodils are already on their way
out and I need to cut them down. It's inevitable
but I've got to make way for some other plantings,
like some Petunias and Pansies. I seeded some
Scarlett O'Hara Morning Glories yesterday and
I can hardly wait to see them climbing the wall
in the side yard of my house. I also have a pot
of deep eggplant colored Calla Lilies I'm planning
to paint before I plant them. I've got Hollyhock
seeds and purple Morning Glories and Naturtiums
to seed tomorrow. I put some giant Green Goddess
Calla Lilies in big Vietnamese Pots on my back
deck last weekend. My cherry trees are in bloom.
My grapevines and blueberries are starting to
bud. The grass is green. The doggies are lounging
in the sun.
I feel pretty good, I've got nothing to complain
about. I hope I don't die in the near future.
a short photo story of the new flagstone walk
we had added to connect our front entry way, sideyard
and back deck: Robert
& Dana's Flagstone Adventure.
Be sure and click on the link showing where we
started when we were demolishing the wretched
deck in this derelict house when we bought it
. . .and compare to what we have made out of this
While looking at these photos, remember that this
is what we bought 4 years ago (actually this is
after we cleaned it up a lot):
sooner am I finished with that nice fat book about
Capitalism than I am lucky enough to turn to "The
Last Empress: Madame Chang Kai SHek and The Birth
of Modern China", by Hanna Pakula.
Oh, my God, this is delicious! The first chapter
was like a tasty hors d'ouevres at a cocktail
party and I have many savory courses awaiting
me! I love fat books with great maps. I love to
balance those mountains of testosterone by reading
about powerful women who have been able to charm
billions of dollars out of the American people
on behalf of their own country. And this book
isn't just about May Ling, wife of Chaing Kai
Shek, but about a fascinating era in History that
is far too obscure in my mind. So I get to fill
in another empty space in my head where understanding
should be. Plus, it's just the tastiest
narrative, full of truly fascinating social, economic,
political history and individual biography!
finished "Relentless Revolution:
A History of Capitalism" by Joyce
Appleby, yesterday. It is terrific. I
have been trying hard for a couple of years to
make up for my abysmal ignorance of economics,
both micro and macro. I understand economics best
when it is presented to me in the context of social
history: what were individual men and women -
and groups of men and woman - actually thinking
and doing across time? So this book works for
me in trying to understand what's going on with
the economy now. Appleby provides a narrative
of the development of Capitalism from a fringe-y
practice by a minority of merchants in a few cities
surrounded by dominant agrarian culture . . .
to becoming the dominant engine of the planet,
where the consumer market pervades every aspect
of our lives.
As I have been reading this book every morning,
I've had lots of opportunity to reflect on its
meaning for the health of ecommerce and small
online businesses in the current recession. I've
had lots of insights into how economic theory
meets practical daily reality in my own business
every time I put out a new product and deal with
customers. I LOVE my morning reading. It's a way
of soothing my mind to meet the stressful challenges
of the day.
an idealist. Really hopeless. It's typical for
a Scorpio and more complicated by growing up as
a Catholic. But it's not that I'm self righteous.
Not at all. I don't claim perfection or faultlessness.
In fact, I'm guilty all the time and go around
confessing to myself and punishing myself throughout
the day because I do NOT live up to my ideals.
That's the horrible reality of being an idealist:
you never live up to your own ideals. They are
just gigantic goals out there in the distance,
However, the ideals mean a lot to me. Like, I
have a really big ideal about not cheating. Not
stealing. One time I stole a candy bar from a
store on my way to school when I was 9 years old.
It happened that day I was on my way to confession
and of course I had to confess the theft of the
candy bar and I was terrified. Then, because I
was so terrified, and got a particularly stern
priest for my confession, I even muffed the confession
and didn't fully explain where and how I had stolen
the candy bar. So I got a more lenient penance,
which meant that the penance wasn't even fully
valid. So the absolution wasn't "good".
I left the confessional knowing I was doomed.
I had lied to a priest in confession and withheld
the full truth of my sin. Remember that I was
9 years old. I was devastated by the horror of
what had spread from my original sin of theft.
The unintended consequences of the original fault.
The fear and anxiety ust spread and spread. There
was nobody to turn to about this because, ironically,
I am the only Catholic in my family, LOL. Oh yeah,
as a bizarre circumstance, my mother had remarried
after the death of my father and I was the only
one of her children to be sent to Catholic school.
I was completely isolated in Catholic school because
everybody else had an entire family who was also
Catholic receiving a parochial education. In our
household, there was no religious atmosphere and
in my school there was no family support. I was
completely alone with the horrible guilt.
I took this experience with utter seriousness
and completely believed that I as living with
a mortal sin on my soul. And I could die any time
and you know where I would end up. The fear and
anxiety and inner conflict lasted for a very long
time. With the hindsight of an adult I really
feel for that child and don't believe in mortal
sin at all any more and certainly don't believe
in that hot place. I wish I could have comforted
the child. But I never stole anything
or even cheated on a test after that because I
never wanted that feeling again. Why, I wouldn't
even throw litter on the street, ha! I'm just,
like, naturally socially responsible now.
I've told some lies here or there, that's for
sure. But I gotta say that I'm compelled to confess
out loud right away, LOL. I self flaggelate on
a regular and public basis. It's a grave handicap,
I can tell you! I can not be a CIA agent or an
undercover cop. I can't cheat on my husband, at
least for very long, because my face will betray
me and I'll blurt out the truth. Don't tell me
any secrets either, okay?!!!!! I am not a secret
keeper because I GOTTA tell the truth!!!! I feel
like I'm in a confessional all day, every day,
and there's a stern priest listening to me and
I'm under threat of dying with a mortal sin on
my soul if I cheat, lie, or steal and do not confess
immediately!!!! So I don't even believe in secrets.
In fact, when I was studying history as a graduate
student, I did my many seminar papers on the problem
of the dangers of hidden diplomacy. I HATE secrecy,
lying, dishonesty and dissembling and I'm always
willing to confess. I have confessed to the IRS
and traffic cops within seconds of being asked
if I did something wrong or made a mistake. I
will confess to things I didn't even do, if I
can think of what someone wants me to confess
to. Wait a minute, that would be lying too . .
.can't do that! That's why I try to avoid making
those mistakes in advance if I possibly can.
That's what you get for stealing a candybar and
not confessing properly when you are 9 years old.
Most of all, though . . .I try to avoid stealing
what isn't mine or exploiting the labor of others.
Good lessons for children, don't you think?
yesterday morning as a Christmas present to ourselves.
Absolutely the best movie of the decade. Possibly
the best movie I've ever seen. For me,
this is so. Not just for the CG effects, either.
The messages in this movie were very profound.
I've heard people criticizing the film for having
rehashed plots, but the storytelling here is classic
and there's nothing wrong with that: heroic courage,
resistance to injustice, grief and loss leading
to redemption, triumph over adversity, all that
stuff. Shakespeare constantly rehashed classic
plots with spectacular success. In this case,
it was a high impact retelling of archaic themes.
I tried to remember when I've seen it done better.
I also was reminded of my personal spiritual beliefs.
I'm essentially a Pantheist.
Although reared as a Catholic, I rejected Christianity,
became strongly irreligionist long ago, embraced
evolutionary science, and opted for an immanent,
universalist approach to the divine. On this level,
I totally "got" the movie. I am already
committed to my connection to all life in the
universe, so the idea of being bonded to trees
and dragons and weird forest critters doesn't
seem that exotic to me. I can do the same thing
in my backyard. In fact, the movie encourages
me to just come right out of the closet as a public
But the beauty of the film . . .ahhhhhh . . .I
admit it, I am seduced by the visual
beauty. We saw it in an Imax theater, which I
highly recommend. Go early so you get a seat right
smack in the middle of an Imax theater, where
you don't have to peer between heads. You feel
really immersed in the 3d environment. When sparks
and beautiful creatures waft about, you really
sense them wafting toward you. It's not cheesey
effects at all. It's KILLER. As a digital artist,
it was one long prolonged virtual orgasm. And
it's the future of bigscreen entertainment.
More about the message . . . an "avatar"
is not a cute little graphic symbol to represent
you in facebook. That's a typical linguistic degeneration,
the kind I hate. The original meaning of Avatar
is a the descent of a deity into physical
form in order to restore righteousness after peace
has been destroyed by evildoing. Sometimes
"avatar" refers to a specific deity
form and sometimes it refers to a general spiritual
doctrine (as described in the Baghavid Gita).
In this movie, the interconnectivity of Pandora
and the lives of the Na'avi people are threatened
by the invasion of the Sky People (humans) in
search of their Unobtanium (the lifeless thing
they think they gotta have, like gold
or oil or uranium or something we are usually
willing to destroy everything to get our hands
on). The movie is really a nice model for the
hell which the European people unleashed on the
world in the centuries after the Age of Discovery,
when we/they destroyed millions of people and
intentionally wiped untold native cultures off
the face of the planet, in order to take whatever
(unobtanium) they had. And come to think of it,
it's kind of a perfect model for what we're doing
to the earth right now.
There is no movie I've seen that does a better
job of telling this classic tale, with greater
beauty. And as an added bonus, there's a positive
ending. How rare is that? I don't think that's
corny. Gawd, it's what I pray for every morning
is the most wonderful book: "Breathless"
by Dean Koontz. I read almost all his books, but
this is one that I really wish were true, LOL.
He often has dogs in his books, but this one has
some magical, mysterious creatures from another
dimension or another reality that change the meaning
of life on earth . . .Oh don't I wish that were
true! They are like dogs . . .but waaaay beyond
the most wonderful dogs you ever imagined! This
guy is such a wonderful writer.
is this an adorable boy or what?
School Picture (Kindergarten, 2009)
a pretty handsome fellow, hunh? And he's pretty
smart and sweet too. We just visited him and his
parents in Colorado for Thanksgiving and had a
wonderful time. He's just a complete sweetheart,
very artistic, like his mom, Heather, my daughter-in-law,
who is a terrific artist. Check
out her blog here.
life is stressful . . .indulge in pleasure. Make
sure they are healthy, inexpensive pleasures,
of course. Do stuff that, if you do it for 20
minutes, it basically costs nothing but can't
fail to make you feel completely different when
you are finished with the experience.
Like . . .playing with doggies. I gotta have at
least one 20 minute experience per day throwing
balls around with my dogs in the yard or rolling
around on the carpet with them. They remind me
to play. They get so excited when I bring out
the tennis balls or the little soft stuffed toys
(we call them "dollies" around here)
and squeaky toys. They are actually grinning from
ear to ear and they leap in the air and mock attack
each other and race around the yard or the room.
They bite leaves and twigs and extract ecstacy
from thin air and remind me that being happy is
nothing more than a choice I can switch on.
Or . . . it costs me nothing to lay down with
my dogs for a short nap. Yeah, they take one look
at that pillow and that chenille throw and they
know how to dispose themselves. Chihuahuas are
burrowers. Paco goes under the throw on my pelvis.
Charlie curls up against my ribs. Tiny Lily settles
against my neck like a feather boa, making it
hard for me to hold my book but . . .oh well,
I'm going to nod off pretty quickly anyway. Jolie
packs herself softly on my other side. My big
shepherd, Xena, climbs on the couch and lays against
my feet. Honey squeezes in against my thigh. They
aren't heavy. It's heavenly. I fall into a light
relaxed slumber and wake up refreshed in about
15 minutes and ready to go back to work. It costs
me nothing and it's a total delight every afternoon.
In the summer I do this outside on my deck. In
the winter it's even more delicious in front of
Evening pleasures: Watching "So You Think
You Can Dance" and succombing to the urge
to get up and dance! Then watching "Glee"
and laughing my ass off. Falling asleep with various
parts of my body touching my husband and all six
of my dogs.
Interspersed throughout the day: stepping outside
the door and just sniffing the air. Dogs have
taught me the fabulous pleasure of sniffing the
air a hundred times a day to see what's being
carried on the breeze. This morning: woodsmoke
and slightly decaying leaves, a little bit of
apple from our tree plus the rain and the distant
scent of saltwater from the Puget sound and the
tang of the manure I'm using in my flower beds
. . .the scent of Fall.
really attached to my early morning read and I
look forward to my first cup of coffee with the
companionship of high content history or biography
and a couple of dogs packed around me in my reading
chair, while it's still dark outside my living
room window. It's got to be a dense but fascinating
non fiction read. I'm most awake and mentally
receptive at about 5:30 a.m., after my husband
has left for his commute. And then I'm deliciously
alone to give my full attention before the work
day begins. Oh, I waited for this book
and had to back order it: "The Last
Lion: The Fall and Rise of Ted Kennedy"
by The Team at the Boston Globe, Edited by Peter
S. Canellos. The first chapter of the day with
a book like this is like the first couple of bites
of the best choclate cake you ever ate. So dense
with flavorful meaning. You can really savor a
book like this at this solitudinous time of the
And in this biography is a full picture of a complex
person, replete with character defects and virtues,
set into the complexities of his times. This is
why I love good biographical history. History
makes the best hobby in the world, the
best intellectual discipline. It's never
failed me as a brain splint against emotional
fractures or just a general pleasurable passtime.
This is a terrific biography about Ted Kennedy,
about the Kennedys in general, about U.S. politics
in general and about the U.S. Senate.
This is what I appreciate about Ted Kennedy: survival.
Authenticity. Confronting his inner demons and
going on to give service despite his many inner
failings. Refusing to live a shame-based life
even when he had much reason to feel deep and
appropriate guilt. Actually feeling the guilt
and going on anyway. Feeling the joy in his life
as deeply as the pain - and showing it without
hesitation. Not being embarrased to profess his
values and ethics even when he failed abysmally
to live up to them. All these internal contradictions
are things we are all prey to and he had to live
them in the public eye. I have deep appreciation
for public figures to serve while struggling with
their own moral character.
God, this is a great in depth evaluation of someone
who overcame a ne'er-do-well reputation he honestly
earned, and went on to honestly earn a reputation
for great accomplishment in service. I've read
thousands of biographies of male and female leaders
and they are all mixed bags of humanity. With
some of them, the more you know, the better you
like them or the more you hate them and sometimes
you just end up spitting from contempt. I am really
really gaganutso about George Washington but frankly
ambivalent in my admiration for Lyndon Johnson.
I could have cheerfuly stabbed Stalin or Mao.
I have only the deepest admiration for little
known heroines like Gertrude Bell. And some men
just make you cry. Reading about Ted Kennedy makes
me cry from recognition of his deep personal courage
in transcending his limitations. I want to have
that much integrity about my own weaknesses and
strengths. Yeah that's it: he had integrity, which
doesn't mean "virtue". It means the
parts hung together pretty doggone good.
am not someone who easily thinks in economic terms
and I didn't even take Economics in college, so
I have to work extra hard to understand what is
happening with our economy today. I generally
understand best when things are presented in an
historical context. The person I learn from most
is Paul Krugman, whose column I read in the New
York Times, and who I follow online at his website,
I just finished his terrific book "The
Return of Depression Economics",
which made the current recession understandable
even to an economic dunce like me. I highly reccommend
it for grasping the connections between the sub-prime
mortgage meltdown and the collapse of the ghost
banking structure and the credit crisis and the
rising unemployment . . .and the mess we're in
and the potential fixes. Yes, he thinks there
are some. I hate being foggy about this stuff,
so I really work at understanding what's happening
and Paul Krugman is a big help.
As if my life weren't fascinating enough
. . . there are actually people who want to be
me. Graphically speaking. Well, this is one possible
deduction from existing facts. There could be
other explanations. I just want the fun of speculation
for while, so let's see . . .
First, the Copying Caveat: I'm the oldest of 6
from a very working class home. I know that copying
the successful behavior of those around us is
an honored primate survival tactic. I grew up
expecting to pass on whatever I know to whoever
needs the information. All human knowledge involves
lots of copying, it's literally in our DNA. Certainly
the history of art is the history of copying from
those more skilled or talented. Anybody who teaches
dearly hopes to be copied for short periods.
Copying in itself is not a problem.
But then . . .there are instances when "copying"
someone else's behavior, skills, or creative work
product may also represent a meta message - or
even a pathological behavior. In fact, there are
occasionally people who, for reasons we can only
guess, intend to take over someone else's entire
persona through aping them. Maybe they don't have
a full persona of their own? Or maybe they have
sinister motives. There have been several scary
or funny movies with this theme. Here's a story
about obsessive graphics copying and you can decide
whether it's funny or creepy.
Consider Anagord/Lady Gordana. I first noticed
some modestly skillful Jaguarwoman knockoffs in
her store at Renderosity.com.
Firstly I saw some parchments
backgrounds that were very much like
Parchments" and "Yet
More Parchments" and used some
of my other products in the promo images. It looks
like those graphics are part of the product, so
that's misleading, but I just vaguely wondered
about that. I recognized the use of a specific
filter to create the page scroll, although I didn't
use a filter to create my parchment scroll, but
rather used the digital painting techniques I
teach in my "Scrolling
Parchment Tutorial". I noticed
that the product promo text and readme was almost
word for word the same as that in my own promo
text and readme and thought that was a little
strange. I'm used to this, but I'd never had someone
copy me quite so precisely. I admit I was impressed
by the effort but not offended at all.
Then . . . some time later, several friends who
are also vendors from Renderosity sent me links
to this Anagord
product of brocade textures which
unaccountably display digital tassels (which again
are not part of the product) prominently in the
promo image which are skillful copies of tassels
from my More
Tasselmania. The product promos misleadingly
advertise something that's not really in the product.
The main thing I think is: somebody is really
studying my work! And I know how much work
is involved in making those digital tassels. Again,
these aren't my digitally painted tassels, they
are good copies of my tassles, which have nothing
to do with the product in which they are being
displayed. Strangely, they are displayed prominently
in the first promo image of this product as though
they were the product. Now I'm perplexed: there's
a message here somewhere, but what is it?
While I'm scratching my head over this, I get
links from Anagord's Renderosity profile to her
online blog and various art and graphics websites
where she had galleries of "her work",
under the name Lady Gordana. She removed the blog
as soon as I contacted her, but here
are the screenshots of the blog with my work,
used as a gallery to advertise her services as
a webdesigner and digital artist, including work
of mine, signed by her "designed by Lady
Anagord". I'm more than perplexed, I'm irritated
to see my work with someone else's signature.
When I contacted her she removed the work from
this blog and all other galleries immediately
and responded with strange messages about how
I should feel happy that someone admires my work
so much to copy it and do I think I'm Michelangelo?
No, not really. But it seemed even stranger after
several other galleries turned up on other graphics
sites with my work, in the form some of my digitally
painted florals and some abstract backgrounds
being similarly used to create portfolio galleries
for Anagord/Lady Gordana to promote her work as
a webdesigner and digital artist. Anagord/Lady
Gordana clearly has the skills to copy me quite
well. That would seem to suffice. Why would she
need to use my promo images (with her signature)
or my actual digital painting as portfolio shots
in her online galleries? What is the point/message
here? I hate inexplicable mysteries
perpetrated by people who refuse to clarify themselves.
And I asked for an explanation:
Why? What are you doing?
It was the conjunction of the precise copying
of the many products AND the wording of every
promotional text WITH the use of my work her galleries
(signed and claimed by her) in many graphics venues
that turned everything very weird. Copying somebody's
style and technique is common, no sweat. Systematically
copying everything someone does start
to look a bit . . .uh . . .symptomatic and message-like.
Here's a gallery at RDNA where Angarod uses the
title of one of my products to introduce a gallery
full of bad copies of the entire product: "Nouvelle
Scrollerie" She's kindasorta
got the hang of copying this product: "La
Belle Scrollerie". but she named
it after this product: "La
Nouvelle Scrollerie". Okay,
she's edging up there in copying skills, but she's
got a ways to go before she can give the Chinese
and Japanese a run for their money. The refinement
just isn't there yet. Still, I get a tingly feeling
looking at that page at RDNA. The backgrounds
on this page are not my work, but the
effort to make it look like mine is extensive.
That's what is really weird. When someone expends
this much effort to copy someone else more or
less successfully and still
writes their name on pieces of artwork to pretend
that they did it (since they clearly don't have
to do that) theweirdness factor thickens into
a concrete creepy gravy.
It's enough for a plot for a B movie thriller.
Like that one where a weird roommate has a fixation
on the main character and starts by copying her
hairdo and begins to wear her clothes and then
murders her best friend and seduces her fiance?
No kidding, this is worth a screenplay. And who
is Anagord/Lady Gordana really? Does she really
live in Serbia? Maybe she works for Renderosity,
Copying is one thing, everybody copies what they
admire in order to learn and then moves on. This
is something else. It's more than copying
and there's no moving on. There's got
to be some real fun in analyzing the psychology
of Anagord/Lady Gordana's motivations. And then
there's the mental stimulation of figuring out
what in the heck Renderosity's role in this is,
since they were contacted about this originally
and chose not to take action, so they know they
have a weird vendor. Times are tough, yeah, and
maybe they needed some vendor replacements. But
vendors can't be in such short supply that they
need cyberstalking obsessed copiers from Serbia.
By now I'd believe anything. Remember, I know
Seachell. I've seen and heard
the most amazing things by now. I know I've learned
everything I know from somebody else, so I can
only be generous with people "copying"
whatever I do. And that is why I do tutorials
myself - to show and tell others how I do what
I do so that they can gain skill and earn some
money from it. I'm a classic oldest child from
a working class family. I want all the kids to
get their graham crackers. I like everybody to
succeed. I totally understand
that everybody begins
by copying how others tie their shoes and
then they go on to inject their
own personalities into whatever they do.
You might think graphics is a tame industry. Nope.
The case of Anagord/Lady Gordana is something
on a completely different plane. This
is not a normal case of admiration or copying
someone's style. This is in the
realm of radically unethical behavior or, pathology.
Or it's material for stand-up comedy. I could
go with that.
night, I took Lily, my 4 1/2 pound long haired
Chihuahua, on an off-leash cross-country walk
we do with our trainer, Kate, from Fast
Pup Dog Training, along with about
12 other grrrreat big dogs of all kinds: a giant
Cane Corso, a energetic young Doberman, lots and
lots of various rambunctious retrievers lurching
and leaping through the brush around her. We crossed
many streets where all the dogs had to sit/stay
and wait to be commanded, one by one, by their
names, to cross the street and sit/stay on the
other side. People often say that Chihuahuas are
bad candidates for obedience training and at the
very least you have to start very young and you
can NOT talk harshly to them! But there was Lily,
doing her sit/stays and distant recalls and following
at my heel and dodging and weaving as those heavy
dogs shot past her. Yes, she was intimidated!
No, not once did she snarl or launch herself as
so many defensive Chihuahuas do. She always had
a pretty calm temperament for a Chihuahua but
she has learned to contain herself much more in
Pup Dog Training.
wish people could have seen her, dainty little
thing, trucking along at a steady clip in the
middle of that pack of big old rough doggies,
delicately sidestepping them and running under
them when they came charging out of the underbrush
straight at her, always returning right to my
sitting in a firm sit/stay at the side of the
road despite the distraction of passersby and
bicycles and loud children. I thank Kate, our
terrific trainer at Fast
Pup Dog Training. This is the little
dog who almost gave us a heart attack when she
ran between our feet and out into the busy street
one day. Now I do not worry about that because
when I say "Lily, sit! Stay!" She does
it. That peace of mind is worth a great deal to
me. And on top of that, I'm able to take my favorite
companion everywhere with me and nothing fazes
her. She's never the nervous Chi people expect.
She's always calm and open to the world. She does
not shiver and freak out when meeting other dogs.
She's a perfect intimate companion! The trainer
is great! The training is fabulous. But let's
give the balance of credit where it really belongs:
to the dog!!!!!
statistics indicate that driving while texting
is as dangerous as driving drunk, logically, that
means that texting and driving is inherently a
willful act of endangering others on the road
or rails and ipso facto deserves the same kind
of legal consequences as does drunk driving. Unfortunately,
even drunk drivers are often not treated as seriously
as they should be.
But . . .some states (like Utah) are waking up
to the extent of the risk we are all facing from
so many mad texters out there on the roads:
a crash here that killed two scientists — and
prompted a dogged investigation by a police
officer and local victim’s advocate — Utah passed
the nation’s toughest law to crack down on texting
behind the wheel. Offenders now face up to 15
years in prison. The
new law, which took effect in May, penalizes
a texting driver who causes a fatality as harshly
as a drunken driver who kills someone. In effect,
a crash caused by such a multitasking motorist
is no longer considered an “accident” like one
caused by a driver who, say, runs into another
car because he nodded off at the wheel. Instead,
such a crash would now be considered inherently
reckless.“It’s a willful act,” said Lyle Hillyard,
a Republican state senator and a big supporter
of the new measure. “If you choose to drink
and drive or if you choose to text and drive,
you’re assuming the same risk.” New
York Times, August 29, 2009
new legal machinery behind this law is a significant
development because it has had to assert that
people know that texting and driving is not just
a "bad idea", it is actually negligent
to the point of "reckless disregard of human
life" and essentially the danger equivalent
of driving under the influence of alcohol. This
is a significant legal breathrough which transcends
all the counter arguments against a privacy and
private property defense. You see, proper legal
arguments have to be marshalled when you want
to stop people from killing you or your children.
And marshalling these legal arguments can take
years and billions of dollars.
In the meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of us
can die or have our limbs smashed while stupid
people are blythely texting their boyfriends and
girlfriends. But . . .we can't expect people to
curtail their fun just because of common sense
or logical arguments. It's gotta take some real
legal coercion and a lot of pain and suffering
and probably a Movie-of-the-Week or 2 to make
the point. Somebody's parents and children will
have to make the headlines a few times and/or
a few more enormous train pile-ups and a chance
to get on the Dr. Phil show a few more times and
some billion dollar lawsuits and some one will
have to go a to jail before people get it through
their thick skulls that it's not okay to sacrifice
people's lives for the pleasure of exercising
their thumbs while driving.
No texting, no talking on the phone, no applying
mascara, no intoxication of any kind . . .just
driving, see? How simple is that?
of the deep summer . . .
wall of Morning Glories . . . literally for no
more than a few dollars, you can strew a couple
of seed packets in the dirt and end up with an
entire wall of fabulous Morning Glories climbing
up your plain wall like this. It was incredibly
easy but fabulous pleasure. I walk out here every
morning to look at this. And there are red Nasturtiums
below. The easiest gardening pleasure of the entire
little more difficult to cultivate, but not much,
this is the view from my big living room window,
my fave, the Smoke Bush, flanked by hydrangeas,
which I get to look at all day long. The shrubs
were kind of puny the first year but they get
bigger every year as they mature. The Smoke Bush
is actually a reddish color and becomes rustier
as the Fall progresses, creating a wonderful contrast
with the hydrangeas, although they are going to
drop off as the summer ends. It really makes for
a lovely combination around the lawn at the end
of the garden, with the ivy climbing the fence.
I thought about that when I was choosing the fence
paint color. I wanted the greens, the blue, the
rusty red. And the varying colors of the daffs,
tulips, lilies and Callas over the course of the
is actually our front yard I'm photographing here,
which we extended through some hefty landfill
and stacked-stone retaining wall and encircled
with the fence on top, so there's a significant
drop off of about 8 feet to the street on the
other side. This way, our entire plot of land
has been turned into a completely private compound
protected from the busy street below and . . .a
perfect dog garden!
Lily sleeps in on Sundays. She gets up for breakfast
at 4:30 as usual but then goes back to sleep for
a couple of hours.
She prefers goose down pillows and high thread
count sheets and pillow cases. She's very nice
to sleep with, I might add. 4 1/2 pounds of delicacy,
like a warm little feather and she smells like
baby powder and her fur is very silky. I never
worry about crushing her at night because Chihuahuas
are burrowers with an unerring sense of how to
move in a crowded bed and whenever we turn over
or move our arms and legs, they move with us and
intuitively find the perfect space behind our
knees or re-nestle quickly against the small of
our backs, or - in Lily's case, right at the top
of my pillow, breathing softly into my hair. It's
heaven, actually. We have 5 Chihuahuas and they
all sleep with us at night and we consider it
the height of luxury. I can touch one of them
with a different part of my body and if I wake
up in the night, I reach for one and it puts me
right back to sleep. Second to my husband, it's
the greatest thing, better than any Teddy Bear.
I never lie down to sleep without some dogs. My
big dog, Xena (95 lbs.) is a bit more like a sack
of potatos on my legs, but I can live with that
is a really great film. I watched it alone the
other night, which is actually the way I prefer
to watch movies. Mostly I like to concentrate
on a great dramatic film like that because every
moment is weighted with meaning it's easy to miss.
So there's no room for interuptions of casual
This movie stars Leonardo di Caprio and Kate Winslett
and it's about a young couple who can't bear the
ordinaryness of their lives. They feel desperate,
although in fact their lives are actually comfortable.
They start out in love and destroy the happiness
they might have by their inability to accept that
they are not as exceptional individually or together
as they fantasized they would be.
This movie doesn't have any fancy effects. It
just has the best acting in there is. Virtuoso
relationship revelation: what goes on between
a man and a women who actually love one another
when things go really wrong and they don't know
what is happening to them and don't know how to
fix it and both begin to feel an increasing sense
of out-of-control despair that no amount of love
can fix. The entire movie is really just these
two actors, carrying out a faultless script under
fabulous direction. There are great supportive
actors, but it is really Leonardo and Kate, among
the 2 greatest actors alive today.
I'm not a fan of talent alone. But I am a big
supporter of people who cultivate their talent
over a lifetime of hard work. Leonardo di Caprio
and Kate Winslett have been developing their talent
and skill with courage and hard work over the
course of a lifetime and you can see it now in
every film they make. I have nothing but reverence
for their work in this film. They are able to
reveal the deepest inner truths of the individuals
and the relationship they portray in this film.
They have worked now for decades to have the personal
depth and craft to do this. Wow. What a film.
What actors. I bow down. Highest accolades.
totally, absolutely support a ban on texting while
driving. I've known for a long time that my life
was being put in danger by drivers who talk on
the phone. It's statistically as dangerous as
drunk driving. But the texter-drivers!!!!! Get
them off the road!!!!! Especially
those teenagers. And the truck drivers, fer sure!.
The studies are showing that even people who know
they are being observed and admit that it's dangerous
can't seem to resist the urge to get in those
finger moves while hurtling down the highway.
While idly flipping channels a few weeks ago,
I accidentally landed on a Dr. Phil show (that
would have to be an accident) where a
young woman was joking about her ability to drive
65 miles an hour with her knees while texting
and how although she knew it was dangerous she
believed in her superior ability to multitask
and thought the old fogies were just making a
big deal out of nothing. Her smirky testimony
was followed by the pleas of a woman who missed
her young daughter who was killed by a texting
No mercy for texting drivers. Throw the damned
cellphones and Blackberries in your pocket or
purse when you get in the car. Nothing is so important
that it can't wait until you get to your destination.
I can clearly see people who are talking on the
phone and weaving in the lanes. I want to scream
or honk at them but that would shatter their slim
grasp of driving attention even further.
Stop arresting marijuana smokers (unless they
are driving and texting) and start preemptively
arresting imbecilic homicidal texter/drivers.
Fine them, send them to jail, take their assets
and use the money to pay for national health insurance.
I'm sorry if that sounds harsh, but the statistics
clearly show that people who drive and use cell
phones and/or text while driving are 35 times
more likely to get into an accident than people
who don't and that is comparable to driving while
drunk. We do not tolerate drunk driving (much),
it's a prosecutable offense. Logic thus dictates
. . .no texting or cellphone usage while driving.
And hey . . .headphones don't help appreciably.
It's the cellphone conversation that seems to
be distracting as well as the hand action. I'm
plainly for prosecuting people who endanger my
life and that of my loved ones. Simple equation:
if you are persistently thoughtless enough to
try to kill me you should be subject to legal
and economic penalties, I think that's fair. That's
what laws are for. Of course, I feel the same
about people who drive under the influence of
pot or any other intoxicating substance.
Now as for those people who are eating hamburgers
and applying makeup in the lane next to me . .
.I feel exactly the same way. I'm just old fashioned.
When driving a car, I'm afraid there's really
nothing else to be done but drive the car. The
virtues of multi-tasking do not apply when driving
a car. I'm for people doing what they want, just
NOT while driving a car, LOL. It's a basic concept
of civilized society: we all get to do pretty
much what we want, as long as we do not threaten
the welfare of others, eh?
What in the hell is so important about those danged
electronic devices that puts them above other
people's lives? And we also now know that active
lobbying efforts have been made to suppress the
studies which have shown just how dangerous it
the various public arguments I've been following
closely is the one for and against the legalization
of marijuana. Do remember that I don't smoke pot
- not for many many years - but I favor its legalization
and not only for medical purposes. I'm definitely
for California legalizing pot and taxing the hell
out of it to solve their revenue crisis, yeah!
I also recognize the serious dependency problem
of a certain percentage of pot smokers, among
whom are many young people whose cognitive skills
are still developing (but apparently veeeeery
sloooooowly). But then I also recognize that
alcohol, which is legal, is our #1 mortal addiction
problem in this country. And we're back to the
issue of whether it serves a purpose for marijuana
usage to be illegal, whether its usage creates
dependency problems or not.
is a great opinion page from the New York Times
which encapsulates many of the For/Against arguments
for the legalization issue. Among
the quotes, this one, from Norm Stamper, former
Police Chief of the City of Seattle, struck me
law disobeyed by more than 100 million Americans,
the number who’ve tried marijuana at least once,
is bad public policy. As a 34-year police veteran,
I’ve seen how marijuana prohibition breeds disrespect
for the law, and contempt for those who enforce
in law enforcement have observed that the "War
on Drugs" has failed abysmally while costing
a great deal and has criminalized a huge percentage
of the citizenry. Stamper goes on to make a strong
case for spending our tax dollars differently,
on education and addiction treatment for example.
This opinon page (cited above) is filled with
articles for and against legalization of marijuana,
including evidence of increasing potency of the
drug, usage statistics, comparison of usage before
and after legalization in other countries, the
case for medical usage, the impact on other illegal
activities. It's really worth the research effort.
As a start. California
can't afford to keep dangerous felons in jail,
let along drug offenders.
Paths & Patio Project
Backyard Garden Landscaping Project
& Deck Construction
(Lily as a tiny Puppy)
adopted my Charlie from Chihuahua Rescue and they
did a marvellous job of rehabilitating this little
guy and making sure I was "good enough"
to serve as a permanent dog mommy for him for
the rest of his life, after have a pretty rough
road. I highly recommend this organization of
deeply caring people, and in fact, I'm going to
see if I can become a foster dog parent myself.
Charlie was 8 when he was rescued and he's been
glued to my side for over 5 years now and I hope
he doesn't remember what his life was like before
he came to our house.
can see a photo of
Charlie and some of our other dogs on this page
Pup Dog Training
This is the training system
I'm enrolled in with my big, 90-lb. Shepherd mix,
Xena. I'm about 4' 10 1/2" and 62 years old
and she's an energetic, rambunctious girl who
wants to gogogo! She's also my personal bodyguard
who is with me 24 hours a day, so I want her with
me wherever I go, in many circumstances. I also
want to be very close to her emotionally and have
her under easy voice control. I don't want to
wrangle or wrestle or repeat myself! Over the
course of her 7 years, I've I've used a variety
of training methods to accomplish both good discipline
and strong emotional bonding, but nothing has
given me the confidence and freedom that Kate's
methods have. In a short time, I've gained a rapid
increase in both confidence and easy control with
Xena, especially off-leash voice control reliable
long term sit/stays and distant recall. I know
that I can place or move her where I want, past
many different distractions, without having her
lose her focus on me. Her enthusiasm grows and
she just gets happier with her work outs. Because
the results happen so quickly, my own enthusiasm
grows too. She actually gets to do more because
she has more control over herself. She's
using her mind, not just wildly dissipating energy
and adding to my bicep tendonitis, LOL. With or
without a leash, she's always at my pace, on the
flats, over rocky terrain, or on a staircase.
She's still getting even more focused physical
workouts, and we both feel more confident in different
environments. Hence, we're even closer emotionally,
which is the ultimate goal: we get to go places
and do a lot more together because I have no concern
about losing control of my dog in new situations
and embarrassing ourselves or offending people
or, even worse, creating danger. She pays attention
to me because it way more interesting and fun
that way. When I call Xena for her training, she's
very eager and runs right to me and sits down
in front of me with her happy face on. Xena and
I can't say enough about this training and my
other 5 dogs (all Chihuahuas) are standing in
line for their turn! Maximum happiness is our
goal. Dogs and people can't have it without confidence
and self control, eh?
At least get a few facts?
you can read online,
the smartest woman
I know, bar none
Where I go for Humility
Inspiration Every Day!
You may soon be a victim
please do not report large filesharing sites like
Nigmae and Heroturk and similar sites of massive
filesharing links. Not only is this extremely
old news and I get a dozen reports per day of
the same links, but disabling links in places
like these is a full time job, since they are
reposted the next day. I am mainly interested
in filesharing individuals who
can be exposed and banned from stores. This is
the primary practical method of fighting filesharing
at the source, in the customer
bases of the artists who they are exploiting directly.
To to this, artists need to know the actual individuals
who buy their products and upload them to Rapidshare
and Yahoo and Google groups. In my store, when
I discover filesharing, I ban the individuals.
court battle . . .
to Unethical Illegal Filesharing Groups
(More Cheery & Adorable Stuff Here!)
is the breeder
from whom we
Chihuahuas of Washougal
breeder's name is Pam and she only has one or
two litters per year (from her 2 females), for
the best health of the mothers. But she really
knows how to produce calm, healthy, confident,
hand-reared pups. She keeps the puppies with their
mother and siblings for 12 weeks and they are
trained to a puppy pad and beautifully socialized
by the time they go directly to their new homes.
So they never suffer insecurity and undue anxiety
as they are developing. I've aquired rescues and
dogs from breeders and this is just about the
most perfect breeding situation I've seen yet.
This is not a "backyard breeder" or
a "puppy mill", these are really hand-reared,
AKC standard, healthy, calm, confident Chihuahuas.
I was able to meet the parents twice and see the
situation in which the pups were born and hand
reared for maximum socialization. I couldn't say
enough about this breeder. We got a "perfect"
Chihuahua girl. Pam really knew Lily's personal
disposition when we selected her: she told me
that she was assertive and unusually playful.
And sure enough, she was confident enough to walk
right into our existing 4-dog situation and win
them all over and STILL dominate them with her
NY TIMES (Of Course)
Key To Rebecca
by Ken Follett
"The Hard Way"
by Lee Child
by Robert Woodward
Oh. Dear. We're Doomed.
"The Letter and the Scroll: What Archeology
Tells Us About The Bible"
Robin Currie & Stephen Hyslop
by Ken Follett
I read everything he writes.
Big To Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street
and Washington Fought To Save The Financial System
- And themselves"
by Andrews Ross Sorkin
Every American should read this, even thought
it is a bit of a slog.
It's "duty reading". Don't just sit
there and whine about what's happening in the
economy if you aren't at least trying to understand
the complexities of banking, mortgage speculation,
the financialization of the economy, and how extremely
wealthy people gamble with everybody's lives.
Sex, Evolution, and Consumer Behavior"
by Geoffrey Miller
Big Short: Inside The Doomsday Machine"
Absolutely, hands down, one of
the best books of the year for me
"Freefall: America, Free Markets, and the
Sinking of the World Economy"
by Joseph E. Stiglitz
If you read "Globalization And
Its Discontents, you'll LOVE this.
I really appreciate brilliant people
who can make complex problems comprehensible to
The First Three Thousand Years"
by Diarmaid MacCulloch
Standby, this is going to take
very long time to read, but I can
use the refresher course, LOL
of the Hills"
by Conn Iggulden
A Novel of Ancient Rome"
I'm a sucker for historical fiction
about the Roman Empire and
Cicero and all that stuff
Empire of Mind: Digital Piracy and the Anti-Capitalist
by Michael Strangelove
This is fascinating, really hard work, and necessary
to read if you are determined to understand digital
piracy from the ground up, which I am. I agree
with the author that it is here to stay for quite
a while, but I don't agree that it's as liberating
or benevolent as he seems to think. I'm not a
corporation and I'm convinced that the "free
market" can and does work for many individual
working class people who are as threatened by
anti-capitalism and digital piracy as they are
threatened by corporatism.
Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin,
and the Race of a Lifetime"
by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin
Okay, this is actually pretty interesting, in
retrospect, even though I know the outcome. It
helps to remember that nothing is assured. It's
also useful to know the nuts and bolts of how
politics actuall happens. I, too, did not know
the difference between the caucases and the primaries,
but even Hillary Clinton and her entire campaign
staff didn't understand it very well.
by Stephen King
by Greg Iles
by David Baldacci
Kinda scary/ugly, because it's about dogfighting
as the center of organizaed crime and that's horrifying
to me, I can barely stand to read it. But Iread
all his novels, just to keep me pedalling in the
Joe Hill is the son of Stephen King, by the way.
Clearly, he has inherited his father's talent.
This is a quirky, unusual supernatural thriller
and I couldn't put it down; it's one of those
few novels I read from start to finish as fast
as I could.
of Trust: How Rome Built - and AMerica Is Building
- a New World"
by Thomas F. Madden
Last Empress: Madame Chiange Kai Shek & The
Birth of Modern China"
by Hannah Pakula
Relentless Revolution: A History of Capitalism"
by Joyce Appleby
Age of Wonder: How The Romantic Generation Discovered
The Beauty And Terror of Science"
by Richard Holmes
Best Book of 2009, My Vote!
With The King: The Story of an English Family
On the High Road to Civil War"
by Adam Nicolson
Excellent, highly recommended for
lovers of 17th Century history
Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt & The Fire That
by Timothy Egan
by Hilary Mantel
Okay, this is one of my favorite authors, and
good historical fiction is my favorite thing to
read. This isn't bad at all!
by Dan Brown
This guy writes soooo much
bullshit, but it does keep me
pedalling at the YMCA and
that's all I require of a novel.
In A Cold War"
by Bernard Shriever
Duty reading, but fascinating.
Part of my long term project
to understand the long trajectory
of U.S. Foreign Policy.
Is Your Country On Drugs: The Secret History of
Getting High In America"
Oh, this is really a terrific
and iteresting read and frankly,
every taxpayer and parent
should read it, it wouldn't hurt!
by Gren Iles
What The World Looks Like To Them and Why They
Act The Way They Do"
This is really a fascinating book on the latest
scientific research on dog behavior, immensely
useful to me
by Greg Iles
Yet anothr great read for those 40 minutes on
the treadmill and Life Cycle and stairmaster!
The Graveyard of Empires: America's War
by Seth G. Jones
I consider this "duty ready" for every
American. I regret that in general Americans are
abysmally ignorant about the wars we pay for and
this is clearly an critically important and vastly
expensive war I don't think we can avoid (unlike
the Iraq war we could have avoided). So I really
wish (naively perhaps) that the U.S. population
would at least try to understand what we're doing
there and the stakes involved and where the tax
money is going and why people are dying over there
and what it has cost us to take our eyes off the
ball and waste so much time in Iraq.
Battle For America 2008: The Story of An Extraordinary
by Dan Balz & Haynes Johnson
Guerra Del Fin Del Mundo"
By Mario Vargas Llosa
Enchantress of Florence"
by Salman Rushdie
Okay, I'm sorry to say, but I think Salman Rushdie
is over-rated. His language is very beautiful
and exciting, but his florid prose just doesn't
go anywhere for me. I really need some meaning
with my prose. There's just no meat with the fancy
verbal flavor for me. Yes, he can write beautifully,
but there's not a lot of emotional human depth
to his work for me, I'm just not moved much while
I'm reading his work, so no matter how beautiful
the words, I have to keep forcing myself onwards.
Sorry, that's the verdict from this addicted reader.
To The Precipice: Lucie De La Tour Du Pin, Eyewitness
To An Era"
by Caroline Moorehead
utterly delicious history
and highly recommended. So much to relate to today,
when we seem to close to so many edges and so
In Stone: Travels Through Urban Geology"
by David B. Williams
Edible History of Humanity"
by Tom Standage
by Guillermo del Toro & Chuck
The Secret World of The Supreme Court"
by Jeffrey Toobin
Me Where It Hurts:
A Day of Humor, Healing and Hope, My Life As An
by Dr. Nick Trout
Juego Del Angel"
by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
This turned out to be the absolutely best fiction
read of the year, even though it was in Spanish
and I had to kind of work at it. I highly recommend
Zafon. Learn Spanish if you have to!
"The Great Medieval
Heretics: Five Centuries of Religious Dissent"
by Michael Frassetto
Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism"
by Naomi Klein
The BEST book of the year,
"The Lion and the Unicorn:
Gladstone Vs. Disraeli"
by Richard Alduous
A Military Futurist Explores War in the 21st Century"
by Andrew F. Krepineveich
Boy if this doesn't make you worry, nothing will.
Stuff even I hadn't though about yet. Yikes!
This is just a long,
delicious read, a kind of historical
mystery novel about Charles Dickens
by Patricia Cornwell
I confess that I read Cornwell's Scarpetta books
almost exclusively while on the treadmill and
Lifecycle at the gym. You can concentrate most
effectively and sweat and breath heavy while keeping
your cardio at exactly the right rate while reading
the perfect medical forensic crime thrillers.
The Scarpetta books are suitably psychologically
deep AND scientifically intriguing and gruesome
enough to hold your attention even while your
neighbor is grunting and flinging sweat your way
and those 40 minutes fly by!
Command: Power, Leadership,
and the Making of Foreign Policy From Richard
to George W. Bush"
Peter W. Rodman
Flat, & Crowded: Why We Need A Green Revolution
and How It Can Renew America"
by Thomas L. Friedman
& U.S. Foreign Policy
& Stephen M. Walt
You gotta read this to kow why the Israelis have
more freedom to discuss Israeli politics than
Americans do. You can be practically stoned for
cricicizing the Likud Party in the U.S. or for
questioning U.S. military aid to Israel, or specific
actions of the IDF, but the are plenty of Jewish
and Israeli critics of Likud, and with good reason.
Dream: The European Founding of North America"
David Hackett Fischer
and about my fave century, the 17th, and my 2
fave continents at the same time! A nice fat book,
by Chelsea Cain
Can't go wrong with these
complex psychological serial killer thrillers
so good you can (as I do) read them avidly while
power walking on a treadmill and using an elliptical
trainer. This is how I make it through my cardio.
Caution: Read her first book "Heartsick"
first or you will lose a lot of the meaning in
"Traitor To His Class: The Privileged Life
and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt"
by H.W. Brands
This is the best in historical
biography: the best in narrative AND historical
annalysis. A perfect book to be reading at this
time of economic crisis, when we are all trying
to figure out what is going on and what is needed
in terms of leadership so that we can come out
the other end. Really delicious exposition of
the roots of the Depression and the complexities
involved in recovering from it.
The Ultra-Secret NSA
From 9/11 to the Eavesdropping of America"
by James Bamford
"The Ascent of Money:
A Financial History
of the World"
Flat, & Crowded"
by Thomas Friedman
by Robert Greene
by Barton Gellman
How the Mob Owned
Cuba . . .And Then
Lost It To The Revolution"
Tom Rob Smith
by Chelsea Cain
by Greg Iles
To Angels: The
Dark Ages Recondisered"
by Peter S. Wells
of the Incas"
by Kim MacQuarrie
del Alma Mia"
(Always read in
the native language of the
author, if at all possible, for
maximum pleasure. If you
have to learn the language
to do so, do it. It changes
your reading experience
entirely, not to mention the
fact that it fends of Alzheimers)
The Brilliant Life and Violent Times of Lorenzo
Miles J. Unger
of the Vatican"
by Eleanor Herman
by Bob Woodward
Government Failed You: Breaking the Cycle of National
by Richard Clarke
Britain, The Slaves and The American Revolution"
Power of Art"
by Simon Schama
A Glass Darkly"
(this is so delicious, it's like eating a piece
of the best devil's food cake every afternoon)
War of The World: Twentieth-Century
Conflict and The
Descent Of The West"
by Nial Ferguson
The Unknown Story"
by Jung Chang
of Denial: Bush
At War, Part III"
Star: The Brief
Arc of Joe McCarthy"
(a book from which I conclude that Ann Coulter
must have taken McCarthy as a life model)
Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy,
and The End of the Republic"
by Chalmers Johnson
"Hegemony or Survival:
for Global Dominance"
by Noam Chomsky
(I was reading this before Chavez recommended
De La Mancha"
Miguel de Cervantes
(Read it in the original Spanish
for God's sake)
Great War For Civilization:
The Conquest of the Middle East
by Robert Fisk
This is the best book, bar none, I've read about
the nature of conflict in the Middle East. Actually,
it's the best book I've read in years. 1000 pages
of detailed memoirs from Robert Fisk's 30 year
career as a war correspondent. You might think
that would be mindnumbing, but Fisk is a very
moving narrator who has been on the ground in
all the conflicts in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan,
Lebanon, Syria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Israel.
Every one of the pages in this book is written
with both fabulous historical scholarship and
a compassionate eye for the human experience of
soldiers and civilians. I fell in love with Fisk
because the people he has interviewed and observed
are neither demonized nor turned into "collateral
damage". Amazing, hunh? A man who writes
about war and politics, not as "events"
but as experiences people actually lived through.
So with this book you get a whole lot more than
a chronicle of governments; you get a picture
of what people did, thought, how they died, what
they intended, and how their intentions went astray.
If you read this single book, you would add immensely
to your understanding of why so many people in
the Middle East distrust the West. It ain't because
they "hate our freedom". What? Can't
read fat, high content books with powerful affect?
If you only read a page or two of this book while
sitting on the toilet in the morning . . .you
would want to read it constantly in your spare
time. Fisk renders the humanness of inhuman struggles
just that compelling: you could move from casual
bathroom reading to complete absorption in one
I have read a ton of stuff on the Middle East
and 20th Century conflict and the minute I started
reading this book, I got teary with relief that
there is at least one person who conveys an understandable
human story about warfare.