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Above email address currently deprecated! Use gary underscore farber at yahoodotcom, pliz! Sanely free of McCarthyite calling anyone a traitor since 2001!
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I've a long record in editorial work in book and magazine publishing, starting 1974, a variety of other work experience, but have been, since 2001, recurringly housebound with insanely painful sporadic and unpredictably variable gout and edema, and in the past, other ailments; the future? The Great Unknown: isn't it for all of us?
I'm currently house/cat-sitting, not on any government aid yet (or mostly ever), often in major chronic pain from gout and edema, which variably can leave me unable to walk, including just standing, but sometimes is better, and is freaking unpredictable at present; I also have major chronic depression and anxiety disorders; I'm currently supported mostly by your blog donations/subscriptions; you can help me. I prefer to spread out the load, and lessen it from the few who have been doing more than their fair share for too long.
Thanks for any understanding and support. I know it's difficult to understand. And things will change. They always change.
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"The brain is wider than the sky, For, put them side by side,
The one the other will include With ease, and you beside"
-- Emily Dickinson
"We will pursue peace as if there is no terrorism and fight terrorism as if there is no peace."
-- Yitzhak Rabin
"I have thought it my duty to exhibit things as they are, not as they ought to be."
-- Alexander Hamilton
"The stakes are too high for government to be a spectator sport."
-- Barbara Jordan
"Under democracy, one party always devotes its chief energies to
trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule --
and both commonly succeed, and are right."
-- H. L. Mencken
"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom.
It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves."
-- William Pitt
"The only completely consistent people are the dead."
-- Aldous Huxley
"I have had my solutions for a long time; but I do not yet know how I am to arrive at them."
-- Karl F. Gauss
"Whatever evils either reason or declamation have imputed to extensive empire,
the power of Rome was attended with some beneficial consequences to mankind;
and the same freedom of intercourse which extended the vices, diffused likewise
the improvements of social life."
-- Edward Gibbon
"Augustus was sensible that mankind is governed by names; nor was he deceived in his
expectation, that the senate and people would submit to slavery, provided they were
respectfully assured that they still enjoyed their ancient freedom."
-- Edward Gibbon
"There exists in human nature a strong propensity to depreciate the advantages, and to magnify
the evils, of the present times."
-- Edward Gibbon
"Our youth now loves luxuries. They have bad manners, contempt for authority.
They show disrespect for elders and they
love to chatter instead of exercise.
Children are now tyrants, not the servants, of their households. They
no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents,
chatter before company, gobble up their food, and tyrannize
"Before impugning an opponent's motives, even when they legitimately may be impugned, answer his arguments."
-- Sidney Hook
"Idealism, alas, does not protect one from ignorance, dogmatism, and foolishness."
-- Sidney Hook
"Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson
"We take, and must continue to take, morally hazardous actions to preserve our civilization.
We must exercise our power. But we ought neither to believe that a nation is capable of perfect
disinterestedness in its exercise, nor become complacent about particular degrees of interest
and passion which corrupt the justice by which the exercise of power is legitimized."
-- Reinhold Niebuhr
"Faced with the choice of all the land without a Jewish state or a Jewish state without all the
land, we chose a Jewish state without all the land."
-- David Ben-Gurion
"...the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him
an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this
or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages
to which, in common with his fellow citizens, he has a natural right; that it tends also
to corrupt the principles of that very religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing,
with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments, those who will externally profess
and conform to it;[...] that the opinions of men are not the object of civil government, nor under its jurisdiction; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion
and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty....
-- Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, Thomas Jefferson
"We don't live just by ideas. Ideas are part of the mixture of customs and practices,
intuitions and instincts that make human life a conscious activity susceptible to
improvement or debasement. A radical idea may be healthy as a provocation;
a temperate idea may be stultifying. It depends on the circumstances. One of the most
tiresome arguments against ideas is that their 'tendency' is to some dire condition --
to totalitarianism, or to moral relativism, or to a war of all against all."
-- Louis Menand
"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis."
-- Dante Alighieri
"He too serves a certain purpose who only stands and cheers."
-- Henry B. Adams
"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the
poor to beg in the streets, steal bread, or sleep under a bridge."
-- Anatole France
"When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle."
-- Edmund Burke
"Education does not mean that we have become certified experts in business or mining or botany or journalism or epistemology;
it means that through the absorption of the moral, intellectual, and esthetic inheritance of the race we have come to
understand and control ourselves as well as the external world; that we have chosen the best as our associates both in spirit
and the flesh; that we have learned to add courtesy to culture, wisdom to knowledge, and forgiveness to understanding."
-- Will Durant
"Glimpses do ye seem to see of that mortally intolerable truth; that all deep, earnest thinking is
but the intrepid effort of the soul to keep the open independence of her sea; while the wildest
winds of heaven and earth conspire to cast her on the treacherous, slavish shore?"
-- Herman Melville
"The most important political office is that of the private citizen."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"It is an error to suppose that books have no influence; it is a slow influence, like flowing water carving out a canyon,
but it tells more and more with every year; and no one can pass an hour a day in the society of sages and heroes without
being lifted up a notch or two by the company he has kept."
-- Will Durant
"When you write, you’re trying to transpose what you’re thinking into something that is less like an annoying drone and more like a piece of music."
-- Louis Menand
"Sex is a continuum."
-- Gore Vidal
"I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should
make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state."
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut, 1802.
"The sum of our religion is peace and unanimity, but these can scarcely stand unless we define as little as possible,
and in many things leave one free to follow his own judgment, because there is great obscurity in many matters, and
man suffers from this almost congenital disease that he will not give in when once a controversy is started, and
after he is heated he regards as absolutely true that which he began to sponsor quite casually...."
-- Desiderius Erasmus
"Are we to have a censor whose imprimatur shall say what books may be sold, and what we may buy? And who is thus to dogmatize religious opinions for our citizens? Whose foot is to be the measure to which ours are all to be cut or stretched? Is a priest to be our inquisitor, or shall a layman, simple as ourselves, set up his reason as the rule of what we are to read, and what we must disbelieve?"
-- Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to N. G. Dufief, Philadelphia bookseller, 1814
"We are told that it is only people's objective actions that matter, and their subjective feelings are of no importance. Thus pacifists, by obstructing the war effort,
are 'objectively' aiding the Nazis; and therefore the fact that they may be personally hostile to Fascism is irrelevant. I have been guilty of saying this myself more than once. The same argument is applied to Trotskyism. Trotskyists are often credited, at any rate by Communists, with being active and conscious agents of Hitler; but when you point out the many and obvious reasons why this is unlikely to be true,
the 'objectively' line of talk is brought forward again. To criticize the Soviet Union helps Hitler: therefore 'Trotskyism is Fascism'. And when this has been established, the accusation of conscious treachery is usually repeated.
This is not only dishonest; it also carries a severe penalty with it. If you disregard people's motives, it becomes much harder to foresee their actions."
-- George Orwell, "As I Please," Tribune, 8 December 1944
"Wouldn't this be a great world if insecurity and desperation made us more attractive? If 'needy' were a turn-on?"
-- "Aaron Altman," Broadcast News
"The great thing about human language is that it prevents us from sticking to the matter at hand."
-- Lewis Thomas
"To be ignorant of what happened before you were born is to be ever a child. For what is man's lifetime unless the memory of past events is woven with those of earlier times?"
"Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it."
-- Samuel Johnson, Life Of Johnson
"Very well, what did my critics say in attacking my character? I must read out their affidavit, so to speak, as though they were my legal accusers: Socrates is guilty of criminal meddling, in that he inquires into things below the earth and in the sky, and makes the weaker argument defeat the stronger, and teaches others to follow his example."
-- Socrates, via Plato, The Republic
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, represents, in the final analysis, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children."
-- Dwight D. Eisenhower
"The term, then, is obviously a relative one; my pedantry is your scholarship, his reasonable accuracy, her irreducible minimum of education, & someone else's ignorance."
-- H. W. Fowler
"Rules exist for good reasons, and in any art form the beginner must learn them and understand what they are for, then follow them for quite a while. A visual artist, pianist, dancer, fiction writer, all beginning artists are in the same boat here: learn the rules, understand them, follow them. It's called an apprenticeship. A mediocre artist never stops following the rules, slavishly follows guidelines, and seldom rises above mediocrity. An accomplished artist internalizes the rules to the point where they don't have to be consciously considered. After you've put in the time it takes to learn to swim, you never stop to think: now I move my arm, kick, raise my head, breathe. You just do it. The accomplished artist knows what the rules mean, how to use them, dodge them, ignore them altogether, or break them. This may be a wholly unconscious process of assimilation, one never articulated, but it has taken place."
-- Kate Wilhelm
"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed."
-- Albert Einstein
"The decisive moment in human evolution is perpetual."
-- Franz Kafka, Aphorisms
"All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."
-- Samuel Beckett, Worstward Ho
"First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you."
-- Nicholas Klein, May, 1919, to the Third Biennial Convention of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (misattributed to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, 1914 & variants).
"Our credulity is a part of the imperfection of our natures. It is inherent in us to desire to generalize, when we ought, on the contrary, to guard ourselves very carefully from this tendency."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The truth is, men are very hard to know, and yet, not to be deceived, we must judge them by their present actions, but for the present only."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The barbarous custom of having men beaten who are suspected of having important secrets to reveal must be abolished. It has always been recognized that this way of interrogating men, by putting them to torture, produces nothing worthwhile. The poor wretches say anything that comes into their mind and what they think the interrogator wishes to know."
-- On the subject of torture, in a letter to Louis Alexandre Berthier (11 November 1798), published in Correspondance Napoleon edited by Henri Plon (1861), Vol. V, No. 3606, p. 128
"All living souls welcome whatever they are ready to cope with; all else they ignore, or pronounce to be monstrous and wrong, or deny to be possible."
-- George Santayana, Dialogues in Limbo (1926)
"If you should put even a little on a little, and should do this often, soon this too would become big."
-- Hesiod, Work And Days
"Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free."
-- Eugene V. Debs
"Reputation is what other people know about you. Honor is what you know about yourself."
-- Lois McMaster Bujold, A Civil Campaign
"All that we have to do is to send two mujahidin to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written "al-Qaida," in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits for their private companies."
-- Osama bin Laden
"Remember, Robin: evil is a pretty bad thing."
Gary Farber is now a licensed Quintuple Super-Sekrit Multi-dimensional Master Pundit.
He does not always refer to himself in the third person.
He is presently single.
The gefilte fish is dead. Donate via the donation button on the top left or I'll shoot this cutepanda. Don't you lovepandas?
Current Total # of Donations Since 2002: 1181
Subscribers to date at $5/month: 100 sign-ups; 91 cancellations; Total= 9
Supporter subscribers to date at $25/month: 16 sign-ups; 10 cancellation; Total= 6
Patron subscribers to date at $50/month: 20 sign-ups; 13 cancellations; Total= 7
...writer[s] I find myself checking out repeatedly when I'm in the mood to play follow-the-links. They're not all people I agree with all the time, or even most of the time, but I've found them all to be thoughtful writers, and that's the important thing, or should be.
-- Tom Tomorrow
I bow before the shrillitudinousness of Gary Farber, who has been blogging like a fiend.
-- Ted Barlow, Crooked Timber
Favorite.... [...] ...all great stuff. [...] Gary Farber should never be without readers.
I usually read you and Patrick several times a day, and I always get something from them. You've got great links, intellectually honest commentary, and a sense of humor. What's not to like?
-- Ted Barlow
One of my issues with many poli-blogs is the dickhead tone so many bloggers affect to express their sense of righteous indignation. Gary Farber's thoughtful leftie takes on the world stand in sharp contrast with the usual rhetorical bullying. Plus, he likes "Pogo," which clearly attests to his unassaultable good taste.
Jaysus. I saw him do something like this before, on a thread about Israel. It was pretty brutal. It's like watching one of those old WWF wrestlers grab an opponent's
face and grind away until the guy starts crying. I mean that in a nice & admiring way, you know.
-- Fontana Labs, Unfogged
We read you Gary Farber! We read you all the time! Its just that we are lazy with our blogroll. We are so very very lazy. We are always the last ones to the party but we always have snazzy bow ties.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber you are a genius of mad scientist proportions. I will bet there are like huge brains growin in jars all over your house.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber is the hardest working man in show blog business. He's like a young Gene Hackman blogging with his hair on fire, or something.
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Gary Farber only has two blogging modes: not at all, and 20 billion interesting posts a day [...] someone on the interweb whose opinions I can trust....
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Isn't Gary a cracking blogger, apropos of nothing in particular?
-- Alison Scott
Gary Farber takes me to task, in a way befitting the gentleman he is.
-- Stephen Green, Vodkapundit
My friend Gary Farber at Amygdala is the sort of liberal for whom I happily give three cheers. [...] Damned incisive blogging....
-- Midwest Conservative Journal
If I ever start a paper, Clueless writes the foreign affairs column, Layne handles the city beat, Welch has the roving-reporter job, Tom Tomorrow runs the comic section (which carries Treacher, of course). MediaMinded runs the slots - that's the type of editor I want as the last line of defense. InstantMan runs the edit page - and you can forget about your Ivins and Wills and Friedmans and Teepens on the edit page - it's all Blair, VodkaP, C. Johnson, Aspara, Farber, Galt, and a dozen other worthies, with Justin 'I am smoking in such a provocative fashion' Raimondo tossed in for balance and comic relief.
Who wouldn't buy that paper? Who wouldn't want to read it? Who wouldn't climb over their mother to be in it?
-- James Lileks
I do appreciate your role and the role of Amygdala as a pioneering effort in the integration of fanwriters with social conscience into the larger blogosphere of social conscience.
-- Lenny Bailes
Every single post in that part of Amygdala visible on my screen is either funny or bracing or important. Is it always like this? -- Natalie Solent
People I've known and still miss include Isaac Asimov, rich brown, Charles Burbee, F. M. "Buzz" Busby, Terry Carr, A. Vincent Clarke, Bob Doyle, George Alec Effinger, Abi Frost,
Bill & Sherry Fesselmeyer, George Flynn, John Milo "Mike" Ford. John Foyster, Mike Glicksohn, Jay Haldeman, Neith Hammond (Asenath Katrina Hammond)/DominEditrix , Chuch Harris, Mike Hinge, Lee Hoffman, Terry Hughes, Damon Knight, Ross Pavlac, Bruce Pelz, Elmer Perdue, Tom Perry,
Larry Propp, Bill Rotsler, Art Saha, Bob Shaw, Martin Smith, Harry Stubbs, Bob Tucker, Harry Warner, Jr., Jack Williamson, Walter A. Willis, Susan Wood, Kate Worley, and Roger Zelazny.
It's just a start, it only gets longer, many are unintentionally left out.
And She of whom I must write someday.
WRITERS AND PRODUCERS. In lieu of a decent post on the Writer's Guild strike, I offer a quote from Ronald D. Moore, creator of the neo-Battlestar Galactica, former writer and producer of Star Trek:TNG and ST: Deep Space Nine, and other work, on how a writer/producer relationship can work, in this case long ago on STTNG:
[...] Cooper housed the central offices for the production, and was the place everyone eventually made pilgrimage to seek additional monies or approvals. There was something about climbing the steep staircase to the second floor of Cooper that seemed to suck the joy out of your day as you prepared to do battle of one form or another upon entering the soulless conference room or the corner office of the Executive Producer. Cooper was a battlefield, plain and simple and the people who lived and worked there day after day tended to have their version of the thousand meter stare peeking out from eyes eternally red-rimmed from too many late nights spent trying to get shooting wrapped before going into overtime.
In the Hart Building, we tended to view the denizens of Cooper as the People Most Likely To Get In The Way of the Story. Scripts were inevitably labeled as too expensive and too long, and production meetings were essentially exercises in finding creative ways of saying that any given set could not be built in the time and budget allowed and why couldn’t the action be moved into the Ready Room? Not to mention, the dread process of giving script notes was also doled out in Cooper, and thus the entire structure soon became the focal point of our collective psychic loathing. Many were the days when the third season writing staff would look out the windows from the fourth floor corner office of the writing team of Hans Biemler and Richard Manning (later to become my own office) and gaze down on Cooper with bitter recriminations and sometimes outright hatred for what had been done to one of “our” scripts “over there.”
At some point, Hans and Ricky discovered that it was possible to actually tell which page of a script was being discussed in Rick Berman’s office with a pair of binoculars and this led to covert gatherings whenever we knew that Michael Piller had been summoned for a “Rick Meeting.” We would crowd the window and trade the two pair of binocs usually at hand to get the perfect view of the script in question, which would invariably be on the coffee table in front of Rick’s chair, while Michael’s sneaker shod feet would just be visible. Rick’s script notes were sometimes visible in his thick red pencil and we would follow along with our copies as he would point to a line of dialog and begin gesticulating with varying degrees of animation, depending on the severity of the note. This went on for some months, until Rick remodeled his office and added shutters to the windows, which brought an end to regular surveillance.
Nice touch of the old Hollywood:
[...] One of the more charming leftovers from the golden era of the studios was the fact that at least four of the offices had full-blown wet bars still in them.
Good flavor. Uber-fanatics might be interested that Moore saved every scrap of Trek office paper, which now resides at USC's Film and Television Library, and will doubtless be grounds for future treatises on the relationship of the Hart Building elevator technology to Ferengi warp drive theory, or somesuch.
FOR THE EXTREMELY RICH CRAZED TREKKIE in your life.
It's not quite a holodeck, but calling it a mere "home entertainment center," or the like, understates by several kellicams.
[...] Named the best theme theater installation at CEDIA 2007, this Palm Beach County, FL home features motion-activated air-lock doors with series sound effects, and a “Red Alert” button on the Crestron TPMC-10 controller to turn all of the LEDs bright red and flashing. The system also features “one of the largest Kaleidescape hard-drive based storage systems” ever created, amassing eight servers with 3,816 DVDs.
You may or may not have heard about the alleged plot of the upcoming movie (now in production, unable to change a line, which seems unlikely to help the quality).
Read The Rest Scale: 3 out of 5 for a couple more pictures of the insanely excessive projection room.
I really should do a post about the Writer's Guild strike, incidentally (like I should do posts on a a zillion more topics, but am too stuffed with worry and depression and anxiety and dread to do much of in recent times, since I'm procrastinating on begging for money again, which I'll have to do momentarily), but in case it isn't obvious, I support it 1000%. Support your creators!
GOODBYES UNSAID. There are many of them. Today Clyde Haberman writes:
[...] For some reason, he ran after the stickup men, even though he was unarmed. He chased them a couple of blocks to Broadway. He could see that they were headed toward a subway station at Dyckman Street. “At the heat of the moment, I was extremely upset,” Mr. Santana said. “And if I didn’t catch ’em, I wanted the police to catch ’em. I didn’t care.”
He certainly did care when three more shots were fired his way. He ducked between two parked cars. He was O.K. But “when I got up,” he said, “that’s when I saw the lady got shot.”
“I heard her scream,” he said. One of his friends came over and held the woman. “He gently put her down,” Mr. Santana said.
That day, he swore, put an end to his drug dealing. “I changed my life around,” he said. Now 24, Mr. Santana says he works in a window factory.
“The lady” who screamed had a name: Leslie Bloom. She was 62 and worked for the city’s Administration for Children’s Services. Inwood was her neighborhood. On that Saturday when the bullet intended for Mr. Santana ended her life, all she was doing was taking a stroll.
Leslie Bloom was an old friend of mine.
Haberman has written about her before, particularly on June 6th, last year, which is no longer behind the paywall:
You reconstruct a stranger's life at your peril. All you have are shards of information, and you can never be certain how, or even if, they fit together.
But this much you know about Leslie Bloom after listening to her relatives, friends and co-workers at the city's Administration for Children's Services:
She grew up in Fresh Meadows, Queens, and she liked the Mets. Adored the Mets.
Once in a while, if they played a day game, she took out time from work to follow them on the radio. But then she stayed late to pay back the borrowed hour. Ms. Bloom, it seems, was a stickler for rules, probably not a bad trait for someone whose job involved enforcing them. "She was always aware that she didn't want to cheat the city," said Regina Prince, a colleague.
Ms. Bloom treasured books, her taste running to mysteries and science fiction. She loved all kinds of music, be it Vivaldi or Springsteen, Beethoven or the Beatles. She had a passion for bird-watching that took her from Jamaica Bay to the Bronx Zoo.
Let's see. She enjoyed smoking but not talking on the phone. She never married. She liked children, though she had none of her own. She was something of a loner, said a friend, Elaine Wolff. Another friend, Vicki Goldberger, said that Ms. Bloom definitely "had her opinions and was not always yielding."
In sum — if this is indeed the sum and not just isolated fragments — Leslie Bloom had a life, nearly 63 years' worth. And then an idiot took it from her. That was two Saturdays ago.
The idiot was like a lot of the city's idiots: He had a gun.
He got into an argument in front of a barber shop on Broadway in the Inwood section of northern Manhattan. The idiot fired his gun, and the bullet strayed far from its intended target. It traveled a very long block and struck Leslie Bloom, whose only crime was to have been walking along Broadway near her apartment on Riverside Drive, off Dyckman Street.
With Leslie Bloom, the newspapers ran short items about the bullet that ripped into her side. Most did not even identify her. Just one more shooting is all it was.
"Until this gun violence hits home. ..." said Roschel Holland Stearns, who once worked with Ms. Bloom. Ms. Stearns did not finish the thought. She didn't have to.
Ms. Bloom hung on for six days. She died on May 26 at Harlem Hospital Center. Nobody expected her to last that long, said her sister, Deborah. "They did everything possible for her," the sister said, "but the bullet had done too much damage."
The other day, about 75 of Leslie Bloom's friends and colleagues gathered at Plaza Jewish Community Chapel, a funeral home on the Upper West Side.
Nobody said a harsh word about her killer, who has not been caught. Instead, people laughed at stories about ordinary things: how Ms. Bloom enjoyed watching each new Harry Potter movie with her sister and how she sent e-mail messages taking colleagues to task if they filled out agency forms incorrectly.
But they also wept — for her, but maybe also for themselves and for a city where crime may be down but too many idiots still rule the day.
When I first met her, she wasn't 62; she was ~28, and we were all part of the small, overlapping set of sf fans in NYC who went to biweekly FIStFA (Faanish Insurgent Scientifictional Association) meetings, and monthly Lunarian meetings, and various other parties, including for some of us the biweekly Fanoclasts, in the early and mid-Seventies. A number of us clustered in the relatively cheap Washington Heights/Inwood area of Northern Manhattan, where livable and affordable apartments could still be found at the time. I saw Leslie a couple of times a month, on average; she dated friends of mine; she was a good friend of my now-deceased once-sweetie Anna Vargo.
Leslie was sharp, acerbic, funny, and a good friend to her friends.
She's one of a number of friends and acquaintances who have died in the past couple of years whom I've been too depressed to get around to writing about, although I mentioned her passing here. This isn't much more, but: goodbye, Leslie. Rest in peace. And you, too, rich, LeeH, Chuch, and everyone else.
[...] Another step they described to the House panel, in what they called "counterterrorism communications," is having a greater awareness of the impact of what U.S. speakers are saying. "When we say 'Islamo-fascism,' whether the term has a meaning or not, what they hear is 'war on Islam,' okay -- 'attacking my religion,' " MacInnes said.
He described the phrase as "a verbal equivalent of poking a stick in somebody's eye . . . and [Osama] bin Laden has been very good at taking our words and turning them around to his advantage by saying, 'See, they're actually at war with Islam.' "
President Bush has not used the phrase recently.
Who knew that "Islamo-fascism," the phrase, was a giant trolling device?
I'M DENSE at understanding my fellow humans, from time to time, we know.
Here John Lahr trashes the musical of Young Frankenstein, which is entirely besides the point of my query, which is in regard to this:
[...] How else can you explain theatregoers’ acceptance of corny gags in “Young Frankenstein” that would be booed off the stage at any amateur comedy slam? When Frederick travels to Europe to inherit his grandfather’s cliff-top castle, for instance, he gets off a train and says to a shoeshine man, “Pardon me, boy, is this the Transylvania Station?” “Ja, ja,” the man replies. “Track 29. Can I give you a shine?” When Frederick arrives at the castle, raps on the behemoth door with a fixture that resembles a gymnast’s rings, and says, “Wow, what knockers!,” Inga replies, “Oh, sank you, Doctor.” These burlesque gags are like paper fed to a fire: they add to the flame without giving off much heat.
Okay, the "knockers" gag is perfectly clear.
But here's where I'm dense: I have absolutely no idea what's funny about the first "gag." I don't even recognize a gag in the slightest. What joke am I missing about shoe shines, or Track 29, or a Transylvania train station, or... what? Whatever it is is zooming right over my head.
Wait, I've found the answer. It's a joke about a pop song of 1941?
I like to think that I'm about as respectful of history, and the need to know it, as anyone is, but in this case I have to observe that this is bound to be a hit gag with anyone over 80 years old.
[...] First, calling this sophisticated piece of engineering a “pop-up book” is like calling the Great Wall of China a partition. Reinhart doesn’t fill pages from left to right like a normal author. He fills them upward and outward in three-dimensional space. He engineers enormous, elaborate tagboard sculptures with hundreds of parts that precisely interact as they rise from the book.
These smaller doors open to reveal even more pop-up sculptures. In fact, in this three-inch-thick volume, the author introduces sub-sub-pages: mini-spreads that open from within the mini-spreads. In all, there are 36 increasingly stunning pop-up displays.
That’s not the only way the author (engineer? sculptor? contractor?) pushes the envelope, either. He adds a fourth dimension to many of these 3-D sculptures by animating them. They actually move as they open.
For example, as you open the book, a robed figure first whips her weapon out at you, then lifts her hood to reveal she’s Princess Leia. The gruesome-looking rancor beast jumps forward, whipping its claws, and chomps its nasty jaws in your face as you flex the book’s spine. And as you open the final spread, the halves of Darth Vader’s black helmet — here, eight inches tall — close slowly, like a clamshell, until you can no longer see the bloodshot, wrinkly, tragic face inside.
Some of the artwork and engineering are so detailed, you can’t imagine how they were created. On one spread, the entire Mos Eisley cantina lifts into the air before you: four architecturally sound rooms, complete with furniture, archways and an open-air roof. The bar is fully populated by individual characters like Han Solo, Chewbacca, Obi-Wan, Luke and all the creepy aliens who’ve stopped in for a quick drink.
On another spread, the author has the audacity to attempt a pop-up Death Star, which is, of course, a sphere. Now, making a perfect sphere pop out of a flat page must be one of those industry holy grails, like a ventriloquist nailing the trick of drinking water while his dummy talks. But this book pretty much manages it.
Still, they’ll be amply rewarded, especially when they discover the “No way!” moment that waits on the final spread: sub-flaps that, when opened, make Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader leap upward, facing each other from opposite sides of your lap, each wielding a light saber that actually lights up. O.K., these weapons are in fact thin, illuminated plastic tubes powered by a battery hidden in the back cover. But your child — or your inner child — never needs to know that. To mangle Arthur C. Clarke’s famous saying, any sufficiently advanced pop-up book is indistinguishable from magic.
THAT WACKY DICK. Fans of the long-running sitcom, Our Veep Cheney!, are in for a treat with this week's installment.
[...] Cynics who think that they, too, know Cheney and assume he does not believe much in the art of negotiation can now rest easy. Asked during a rare question-and-answer session after a speech to the World Affairs Council of Dallas-Fort Worth on Friday why the United States should invade countries such as Iraq and Iran rather than sit down and talk with their leaders, he said he would be more than happy to talk with them -- on certain rather favorable terms.
"Well, I would love to have one giant peace conference, to see our adversaries come sit down on the other side of the table, and negotiate a treaty here -- like we did at the end of World War II onboard the USS Missouri -- and have the problem solved," he said, before going on to explain why he did not think that was possible.
[...] Q Our attention is focused on Iraq, Iran and the wider Middle East. However, much of the world is watching closely Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. How concerned are you about his influence?
VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY: We have -- I'm trying to think how to state this diplomatically. (Laughter.) Diplomacy is hard sometimes. (Laughter.) We have refrained from making public pronouncements about Mr. Chavez -- I think for good and legitimate reasons. He's a -- obviously an individual with his own agenda, and he spends a great deal of his time worrying about us and criticizing the United States. My own personal view is that he does not represent the future of Latin America, and the people of Peru* I think deserve better in their leadership.
HOW IT WORKS. First they pass the law. The law is limited to a very narrow set of targets, or circumstances.
Yesterday's incarnation was to fight drugs. Or gangs. Or the mob. Or racketeering. Or pornography. Or illegal immigrants. Or a certain ethnic, or religious group. Or sex offenders. Or communists. Or someone else who isn't us, but who is them.
Today, of course, it's terrorism.
Then they use the new law. The new law is useful. Of course it is, it was designed to make it easier to investigate, or round up, or search, or bug, or charge, or limit evidence, or convict, or imprison, or keep imprisoned, or limit appeals, or make it easier to execute more people.
In the weeks after Sept. 11, 2001, 36 states enacted laws that would guarantee harsher sentences in terrorism cases. Gov. George E. Pataki signed New York’s law within six days of the attack. Like the others, it was aimed at international terrorism organizations like Al Qaeda.
But yesterday, in State Supreme Court in the Bronx, jurors for the first time found a defendant guilty under New York’s statute, and he did not fit the stereotype of a terrorist. The defendant, Edgar Morales, is a 25-year-old recreational soccer player and gang member who fatally shot a 10-year-old girl and wounded a second man outside a christening party in 2002.
Mr. Morales, a baby-faced construction worker, was a member of the St. James Boys, a gang described in the trial as being formed by Mexican immigrants to protect themselves from being assaulted and robbed by other gangs in the west Bronx.
Robert T. Johnson, the Bronx district attorney, was criticized by some lawmakers when he used the statute against Mr. Morales two years ago; some said it was not the law’s intended use.
But just as racketeering laws aimed at mobsters have since been used in other crimes, Mr. Johnson said, the terrorism charge fit because Mr. Morales and his gang had terrorized Mexicans and Mexican-Americans in the west Bronx for years through violence and intimidation. It also provided for a far more substantial sentence.
Of course it did.
The jury deliberated for four days after testimony ended last Thursday, but despite their disagreements on other elements of the case, jurors said yesterday they had concluded very early that Mr. Morales was guilty of terrorism.
“When you fire a gun into a crowd, whether you hit your intended victim or not, you scare people, you make them fearful for their lives, and that’s why, in my opinion, the terrorism charges applied,” said a juror who identified herself only by her first name, Linnea.
Another juror said she had been hesitant about using the terrorism statute against Mr. Morales when prosecutors presented evidence, but once Justice Michael A. Gross told them on the trial’s final day that terrorism was defined as an act meant to “intimidate or coerce a civilian population,” her reluctance dissolved.
Still another member of the jury said, “When we think of terrorism, we think of Sept. 11th, so I was skeptical at first, but when we heard the definition of terrorism — to inflict fear and to dominate — from the get-go we agreed.”
Other states have used their terrorism statutes, which were seen as largely ceremonial when they were introduced because major terrorism cases were likely to be prosecuted by the federal government.
Savor that: largely ceremonial.
Some cultures practice more civilized forms of ceremonial practices to deal with their fears, and their need for revenge, like voudon.
The next logical step, of course, would be for Rudy Giuliani to campaign for domestic kidnappers and child molestors to be waterboarded when arrested, to find out if they have any knowledge of children in danger.
Then, certainly, any other arrested criminals thought to be likely to have knowledge of any possible ongoing or future violence or crimes, should be questioned with "enhanced interrogation methods."
Why not? It would be to protect the children.
Read The Rest Scale: 4 out of 5. Actual effects:
[...] The Bronx jury convicted Mr. Morales of first-degree manslaughter, attempted murder, criminal possession of a weapon and conspiracy, each with the additional element of terrorism, which is likely to increase his prison term significantly when he is sentenced Nov. 14.
The terrorism component increases each crime one level — a B felony becomes an A felony, for instance, raising a potential 15-year sentence to 25 years to life.
[...] “We may be looking at a future where this is a justifiable application for these types of gangs that don’t have a money-making motive, as opposed to traditional organized crime operations, but this gang was directed to inflict themselves mainly on rival gangs,” said Mr. Lombardi, drawing a distinction between gang members and other civilians.
Yep, if you're a gang member, you're now a terrorist, too, if you scare anyone.
Because, you know, most violent crimes aren't frightening at all.
So this distinction really separates out "terrorism" from run-of-the-mill violent assaults, rapes, uses of weapons, attempted murders, and the like, which most people react to with zen calm.
No, there's no danger of these laws being used over-widely at all.