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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.
I'm sometimes available to some degree as a paid writer, editor, researcher, or proofreader. I'm sometimes available as a fill-in Guest Blogger at mid-to-high-traffic blogs that fit my knowledge set.
If you like my blog, and would like to help me continue to afford food and prescriptions, or simply enjoy my blogging and writing, and would like to support it --
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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.
[...] The latest statistics—compiled by the Defense Department. and obtained through the Freedom of Information Act by the Boston-based National Priorities Project—are grim. They show that the percentage of new Army recruits with high-school diplomas has plunged from 94 percent in 2003 to 83.5 percent in 2005 to 70.7 percent in 2007. (The Pentagon's longstanding goal is 90 percent.)
The percentage of what the Army calls "high-quality" recruits—those who have high-school diplomas and who score in the upper 50th percentile on the Armed Forces' aptitude tests—has declined from 56.2 percent in 2005 to 44.6 percent in 2007.
In order to meet recruitment targets, the Army has even had to scour the bottom of the barrel. There used to be a regulation that no more than 2 percent of all recruits could be "Category IV"—defined as applicants who score in the 10th to 30th percentile on the aptitude tests. In 2004, just 0.6 percent of new soldiers scored so low. In 2005, as the Army had a hard time recruiting, the cap was raised to 4 percent. And in 2007, according to the new data, the Army exceeded even that limit—4.1 percent of new recruits last year were Cat IVs.
This hurts the Army, and it hurts the United States of America.
How? Fred Kaplan expands on a few other reasons, but it's also this simple:
[...] Replacing a tank gunner who had scored Category IV with one who'd scored Category IIIA (in the 50th to 64th percentile) improved the chances of hitting a target by 34 percent.
Today's Army, of course, is much more high-tech, from top to bottom. The problem is that when tasks get more technical, aptitude makes an even bigger difference. In one Army study cited by the RAND report, three-man teams from the Army's active-duty signal battalions were told to make a communications system operational. Teams consisting of Category IIIA personnel had a 67 percent chance of succeeding. Teams with Category IIIB soldiers (who had ranked in the 31st to 49th percentile) had a 47 percent chance. Those with Category IVs had only a 29 percent chance. The study also showed that adding a high-scoring soldier to a three-man team increased its chance of success by 8 percent. (This also means that adding a low-scoring soldier to a team reduces its chance by a similar margin.)
Who do you want to send your sibling, spouse, lover, child, friend, into combat with?
The result of this administration's policies -- setting aside the question of going to these particular wars in the first place -- is that more Americans will die.
Rudolph W. Giuliani likens himself to a boxer who never takes a punch without swinging back. As mayor, he made the vengeful roundhouse an instrument of government, clipping anyone who crossed him.
In August 1997, James Schillaci, a rough-hewn chauffeur from the Bronx, dialed Mayor Giuliani’s radio program on WABC-AM to complain about a red-light sting run by the police near the Bronx Zoo. When the call yielded no results, Mr. Schillaci turned to The Daily News, which then ran a photo of the red light and this front page headline: “GOTCHA!”
That morning, police officers appeared on Mr. Schillaci’s doorstep. What are you going to do, Mr. Schillaci asked, arrest me? He was joking, but the officers were not.
They slapped on handcuffs and took him to court on a 13-year-old traffic warrant. A judge threw out the charge. A police spokeswoman later read Mr. Schillaci’s decades-old criminal rap sheet to a reporter for The Daily News, a move of questionable legality because the state restricts how such information is released. She said, falsely, that he had been convicted of sodomy.
Then Mr. Giuliani took up the cudgel.
“Mr. Schillaci was posing as an altruistic whistle-blower,” the mayor told reporters at the time. “Maybe he’s dishonest enough to lie about police officers.”
Mr. Schillaci suffered an emotional breakdown, was briefly hospitalized and later received a $290,000 legal settlement from the city. “It really damaged me,” said Mr. Schillaci, now 60, massaging his face with thick hands. “I thought I was doing something good for once, my civic duty and all. Then he steps on me.”
It's just one of endless such examples of the Rudy Way.
[...] One result: New York City spent at least $7 million in settling civil rights lawsuits and paying retaliatory damages during the Giuliani years.
After AIDS activists with Housing Works loudly challenged the mayor, city officials sabotaged the group’s application for a federal housing grant. A caseworker who spoke of missteps in the death of a child was fired. After unidentified city workers complained of pressure to hand contracts to Giuliani-favored organizations, investigators examined not the charges but the identity of the leakers.
“There were constant loyalty tests: ‘Will you shoot your brother?’ ” said Marilyn Gelber, who served as environmental commissioner under Mr. Giuliani. “People were marked for destruction for disloyal jokes.”
Mr. Giuliani paid careful attention to the art of political payback. When former Mayors Edward I. Koch and David N. Dinkins spoke publicly of Mr. Giuliani’s foibles, mayoral aides removed their official portraits from the ceremonial Blue Room at City Hall. Mr. Koch, who wrote a book titled “Giuliani: Nasty Man,” shrugs.
“David Dinkins and I are lucky that Rudy didn’t cast our portraits onto a bonfire along with the First Amendment, which he enjoyed violating daily,” Mr. Koch said in a recent interview.
But the mayor’s fist also fell on the less powerful. In mid-May 1994, newspapers revealed that Mr. Giuliani’s youth commissioner, the Rev. John E. Brandon, suffered tax problems; more troubling revelations seemed in the offing.
At 7 p.m. on May 17, Mr. Giuliani’s press secretary dialed reporters and served up a hotter story: A former youth commissioner under Mr. Dinkins, Richard L. Murphy, had ladled millions of dollars to supporters of the former mayor. And someone had destroyed Department of Youth Services records and hard drives and stolen computers in an apparent effort to obscure what had happened to that money.
“My immediate goal is to get rid of the stealing, to get rid of the corruption,” Mr. Giuliani told The Daily News.
None of it was true. In 1995, the Department of Investigation found no politically motivated contracts and no theft by senior officials. But Mr. Murphy’s professional life was wrecked.
“I was soiled merchandise — the taint just lingers,” Mr. Murphy said in a recent interview.
Not long after, a major foundation recruited Mr. Murphy to work on the West Coast. The group wanted him to replicate his much-honored concept of opening schools at night as community centers. A senior Giuliani official called the foundation — a move a former mayoral official confirmed on the condition of anonymity for fear of embarrassing the organization — and the prospective job disappeared.
“He goes to people and makes them complicit in his revenge,” Mr. Murphy said.
This theme repeats.
And so it does. Read, as they say, the rest.
Read The Rest Scale: 5 out of 5; gosh, who doesn't want to put every federal agency at Giuliani's whim to command?
ADDENDUM, 1/28/08, 4:28 p.m.: In case you missed it, let's recall this quote:
[...] Lillian Barrios-Paoli, who also served under both mayors, was Mr. Giuliani’s welfare commissioner, among other jobs. She offered another perspective. If Mr. Koch said to his advisers that he wanted to kill all 12-year-olds, she said: “I can think of 10 people who would say, ‘Please, get a life! What, are you crazy? No way!’ And there’d be a big argument and at the end of the day, somebody’s judgment would prevail.
“If Rudy would say, ‘Let’s kill 12-year-olds,’ there would be deep silence in the room, and then somebody would say, ‘That’s brilliant!’ And then somebody else would say, ‘Have you thought of 13-year-olds, too?’”
As I said, I thought a lot before posting this, because inevitably someone will accuse me of seeking to exploit Andy's death for hits, or somesuch, which obviously isn't the point here. I don't care if anyone links to my blog in this case; I just don't understand why no one else is linking to the Rocky Mountain News story and video.
I'm just surprised that nobody else seems interested in the least in noting the event -- which was the front page of the Rocky, and which the Governor attended -- and telling others about it, or linking to the news article or video or anything. It's not as if it's otherwise been written about by a single blogger on the planet.
I don't really understand it. Was I too personal? Do people find the event too disturbing? Do they feel they already "did" Andy's death, and another post would be redundant?
Maybe people just don't want to think about it?
I'm suffering a loss of imagination at even coming up with other reasons, aside, of course, in some cases simply that people are busy, it's not the right sort of thing for their blog, etc. But it doesn't explain everyone.
TILL YOUR DADDY TAKES THE T-BIRD AWAY. I tend to not mention here many of the passing events of my life -- and, yes, lately I've not tended to mention much of anything at all; sorry about that -- since this isn't a personal diary kind of blog.
But adding to my Joie de vivre earlier today was getting called by the PayPal Fraud Investigation Unit (I typoed that as "Freud Investigation Unit," which sounds much more interesting), and finding out that someone had, yesterday, while I was gone, stolen most of the money out of my account via my PayPal debit card numbers.
Most of it was immediately restored, but ~$900 remains pending. With luck, those claims will simply be denied within the next few days, and it will be as if it didn't happen; alternatively, some or all will go through, and I'll have to file a claim, and wait up to possibly 45 days. My PayPal debit card has been cancelled, and I'll have to wait 7-10 days for a new one.
On the good side, worry not, this causes me no actual harm beyond my psyche: as I said, most of the money was restored. As regards the inconvenience of not being able to use the card, all I have to do is transfer cash to my bank, and use that debit card instead.
So, no real harm. Just adds to my fun, is all.
Oh, and all they know about how it could have happened is that it must have been via one of the merchants I used the card at. It could happen to anyone who ever uses a physical debit/credit card. (And people worry about internet credit card use, which isn't a very sensible understanding of comparative risk.)
And let me say here that I'm terribly sick of deaths in January.
So, hope you've been having a better week. How are you?
In happier news, The Poor Man is back, and with the Best. Blogroll. Ever.
UPDATE, 9:27 p.m.: The mechanism has been isolated: a local business that's going out of business had their records breached; from their email:
[...] Several of our customers have informed us that unauthorized charges were made to credit card numbers they had previously provided to us. The earliest fraudulent charges reported to us occurred over the weekend of January 12-13. We are working closely with the Boulder Police Department to determine what happened, who is responsible and who may be affected.
They also gave the phone number of the Boulder officer who is investigating; I'll call her in the morning.
Good to see something happen here. I never mentioned that the same thing happened to me before, about a month or so ago, with a single incident of someone buying a $2000 computer in Hong Kong from my account.
There was scattered conversation about the service, and events surrounding it, by me and others, mixed into the political conversation here.
Salute to soldier who moved many Tears flow freely at Fort Carson for Andrew Olmsted
(Caption: The helmet of Maj. Andrew Olmsted rests atop his M-14 rifle inside the Soldier's Memorial Chapel in Fort Carson. Olmstead [Olmsted, goddamnit] died from a sniper's bullet in an ambush on Jan. 3. He was the first American casualty in Iraq in 2008.)
The wall of men dressed in pressed green uniforms - men responsible for the nation's defense - sobbed and crumbled in the presence of the rectangular box draped in an American flag.
The burly men in leather jackets and bushy beards standing along the sides of the chapel wiped away tears as well. The parents of the man in the casket sat in the front row and held each other.
And the dead soldier's wife simply dropped her head and cried.
"Staff Sergeant Salas," 1st Sgt. William Schroeter barked, standing erect in the center aisle.
Salas stood up amid the hundreds in attendance and answered.
"Sergeant 1st Class Parish," Schroeter said.
Parish bolted up and answered as well.
"Sergeant 1st Class Merriman," Schroeter said.
"Here," Merriman answered, standing tall.
"Major Olmsted," Schroeter called out.
"Major Andrew Olmsted," Schroeter called again.
"Major Andrew James Olmsted," he said, each name echoing throughout the Soldiers' Memorial Chapel.
Olmsted's widow, Amanda Wilson, trembled. She would have given anything to hear him answer. One word would do. But that would be to wish for the impossible.
In front of her, Olmsted's portrait looked back. Above the photo, there was a lone rifle with a helmet on top, emblazoned with the major's last name. His dog tags hung limply around the rifle.
Emptiness filled the Fort Carson chapel. Wilson let out a small, mournful cry. Her husband was less than five feet away from her, separated by a flag, a casket and an eternity.
2008's first casualties
Olmsted was killed in Iraq on Jan. 3 along with Capt. Thomas Casey - the first U.S. casualties of 2008. News of the 37-year-old's death swept through the blogsphere, where the soldier was an active writer at several sites, including one for the Rocky and one for Obsidian Wings.
He asked Hilary Bok, who runs Obsidian Wings, to post something he wrote in the event of his death. When Bok put it up on the site, it stirred so much interest that Olmsted's father, Wes Olmsted, said it has since been translated into several languages, including Hebrew, Farsi and Russian.
"He touched a lot of people around the world," Wes Olmsted said while stirring, not eating, his soup just prior to the funeral.
He and his wife, Nancy, had flown to Colorado on Saturday to be at Fort Carson for the service and were barely able to eat Tuesday.
Maj. Olmsted's younger brother, Eric Olmsted, tried to string together some happy memories of the two of them growing up. He chuckled quietly at a comment his brother made last year while training at Fort Riley, Kan. Andy, talking about the intellectual heft of his family - father and brother with doctorates, mother and wife with master's degrees - had said he was the "intellectual runt of the family."
"I think we all know that wasn't true," Eric Olmsted said. "He could read before my parents even knew he could read."
The major ("We always just called him Andy," his mom said) was somewhat of a Renaissance man, with interests ranging from philosophy, writing, economics and '80s music to a passionate love for the Boston Red Sox.
"He lived life to the fullest every day," longtime friend Maj. David Willis said. "There was never a challenge he did not meet head- on. There was never anything he saw that was too hard for him to take on."
That included Iraq.
While Olmsted would entertain discussions about the reasons for America's involvement in Iraq, he was fully committed to trying to fix things there. In his blog postings, he talked optimistically about the impact his unit was having and his belief in doing the job well. In his final posting, he asked everyone to not politicize his death.
'We're all going to die'
"We're all going to die of something," he wrote. "I died doing a job I loved. When your time comes, I hope you are as fortunate as I was."
But Olmsted's wish didn't stave off grief and regret at the chapel.
"More than anything else in the world, I wish I could talk to him one last time," Willis said, his voice cracking. "To laugh at his jokes, to share his thoughts and talk about whatever caught his interest that day."
The service was at Fort Carson because Olmsted had been stationed there since 1997, and Colorado Springs was where he and Amanda Wilson had made a home together. When he was ordered to Iraq, he trained at Fort Riley and got a short break before heading off last summer.
His friend, Lt. Col. Matthew Goodman, remembered his last meal with Olmsted before he shipped off. Goodman could barely tell the story at the funeral without his voice hitching.
"As we were leaving, I asked if he was good to go and if he needed anything," Goodman said. "And I'll never forget, as he put on his jacket and his signature fedora hat, he said the only thing he was going to worry about was missing his wife, Amanda."
A widow's struggle
Wilson dropped her head again, shoulders hunched forward as if they carried a giant weight. All week, the widow had been struggling with the loss. Her mother had come last week to help, but by Tuesday, Wilson still looked ashen and shell-shocked.
As everyone in the chapel stood as a row of soldiers outside fired a volley of shots and a bugler played Taps, the finality of what was happening settled hard.
The flag was lifted from the casket and was folded slowly, carefully and precisely - never to be unfolded again.
Maj. Gen. Mark Graham got on one knee and whispered words meant only for Wilson. He saluted her slowly. He then did the same for Olmsted's mother. Neither held her composure. Only the sobbing of uniformed men broke the stillness. Gov. Bill Ritter watched from a pew, stone-faced.
Then, it was time to say goodbye.
Wilson walked up to the casket and, clutching the flag, draped herself over it. She wept openly. She was unsteady on her feet, and a casualty assistance officer helped her exit the chapel - her departure followed by silence.
Read The Rest Scale: yes. Previous two posts here and here.
ADDENDUM, 5:08 p.m.: I went out to pick up hard copies of the Rocky Mountain News. I hadn't realized that Andrew is the entire front cover of today's paper, with the picture taking up most of the page. Headlines: "Fort Carson Farewell," and
Final Roll Call For Maj. Olmsted
Comrades, family recall top-notch soldier, Rennaissance man.
I also burst out crying in the middle of Barnes & Noble.
ADDENDUM, 7:02 p.m.: It occurs to me that almost no one has mentioned Andy's original blog. Even Hilzoy wasn't aware of it until I pointed it out to her yesterday. That was Andy's first blog, back in October, 2001, before I got started, although we got to know each other very shortly after I got started in December, 2001.
Andy's political views underwent a huge evolution over the subsequent years. Please keep that in mind.
As Hilzoy said, when I pointed this out to her yesterday, -- and this is one of those incredibly rare occasions when I think I can quote without asking for permission:
Wow. Compare and contrast:
"Peggy Noonan has a good piece in today's Opinion Journal about the return of manliness. Not machismo, not jocks, but gentlemen, a group that has been hunted into near oblivion by feminism and intellectuals over the past thirty years. ..."
10/12/2001 07:49:00 AM
"I think that, unfortunately, the real problem is that if you're a white male, you really just don't realize the extent of the privileges you enjoy. To a white man, it's pretty normal to think that he can go for a walk at most times in most places and never have to worry about being raped. When he sees flashing lights in his mirror, he can probably safely assume that while he may have been exceeding the speed limit or have a taillight out, the police officer hasn't stopped him because he matches a vague description of a criminal. Those don't seem like privileges, until you don't have them any more. And so it can be very hard for even the best-intentioned white male to understand what challenges minorities still face.
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Or, if you can afford it, you can get cable/satellite reception.