Monday, August 31, 2009

Tea and Sympathy

In these tough times I find that my family and I take a rooting interest in the continued well being of our small local businesses. Thus, as my mom, Richie, Jo and I sat down to eat at a local Greek restaurant, Richie remarked how glad he was to see the place with some activity. Soon, there would be a little too much.

We all tend to set a timer for when each course should be placed before us. As the minutes passed and no food appeared, the conversation started to turn to the delay. While my wife and son were particularly patient and forgiving, almost nurturing in their sense of caring for the establishment, I started to get cranky. I was about to get a lesson in why I should just shut up and wait.

The noise level from the table behind us rose dramatically. First, the husband started with his animated complaints about the quality of the food. Then, in an ever increasing pitch, the wife began. She took nasty to a new level, announcing her disgust over and over, each succeeding time with a little more force. The owner of the restaurant, who had now come over to try to soothe the beast, was in full retreat. His apologies for the perceived wrong done to his customers only stirred them to greater levels of indignity. It was the ugly American on full display.

The show went on for at least 5 minutes. With each respite, we took a breath. Then it would begin anew. We heard the arguments for the second time about not paying the bill, saw the family get up and finally, finally depart.

Richie almost physically recoils from this type of confrontation. He was shaken by what happened around him. While I was still part alpha, and ready to begin my own muted version of this dance with the proprietor because of the delay in service, Jo and Richie counseled otherwise. Just sit and wait. We had no where to go.

A few minutes later our food arrived. The owner came to our table to ask how we were doing. The conversation turned to the scene we had just witnessed, and we questioned if there was a problem in the backroom.

We were told that the chef was having marital problems. It seemed that while he was still in love with his wife, the feelings were not reciprocated. He was crying uncontrollably. The owner had tried to calm the beleaguered employee, but it had been difficult. Life, it turned out, was the basis for the delay.

We became instant friends with the boss as we told him it was ok, everyone had a bad day and we understood. The dessert and tea were compliments of the owner. The waitress and hostess were smiling and laughing with us. We waved our goodbyes and promised to return soon.

The lesson, reinforced last night, was in the value of kindness and sympathy. The family that exited in a storm of angry rhetoric, will never feel gratitude like that shown us. While they may have left the restaurant with their money in their pockets, they went home poorer by far.

Friday, August 28, 2009

10 for 50

With the passing of Ted Kennedy, there is a half century retrospective that many of us are now undertaking. I was on a walk with my brother-in-law this morning and we started to talk about the 10 most memorable events from 1960 to the present. The list below does not include 'ongoing' issues like war, but rather moments in time. In chronological order, here goes:

1 The assassination of JFK.

2. The assassination of MLK

3. One small step for man

4. Woodstock

5. Nixon's resignation

6. The Berlin Wall crumbles

7. Monica Lewinsky

8. Hanging chads

9. 9/11

10. The inauguration of Barack Obama

I am sure you may disagree with some or all of the above, and find certain egregious omissions. Let me know.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


And then there were none. With the passing of Edward Moore Kennedy an era of political significance for 3 brothers has come to a close. They were men of wealth and privilege. They were men who had flaws, revealed and hidden. They were however, above all else, men who dedicated their lives in the pursuit of their vision of a better more noble country.

From 1960 and for almost 50 years thereafter the name Kennedy carried a special meaning. I was born in 1952, the same year that JFK became a US senator from Massachusetts. I have never had a conscious thought of our country's political course without inclusion of someone Kennedy.

The family believed fundamentally in moving towards a truer democracy. From civil rights advances, educational reform and health insurance overhaul to scores of other positions vigorously defended by Jack, Bobby and Ted, we were asked to live up to the standards they demanded from our society. It was to be a country in which no one would be left behind.

There are no more brothers to whom the torch passes. The light that this extraordinary trio shined upon us has now been extinguished. It is a little darker in the world this morning. It is time for us to pay our last respects to 3 brothers who deserve our everlasting respect.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


I am an idiot savant.

I am the person who can't figure out most of the uses for a cellphone and wouldn't know how to use an iphone if I was given a manual and a month. I can't really cut a bagel because I haven't mastered the art of slicing away from my wrists. I would need to take a course to be able to remove a key off a key chain. Trying to uncork a bottle of wine remains one of the mysteries of the world.

The simple tasks that I am unable to accomplish would fill the pages of a large notebook

Yet last night, presented with a mathematical challenge that had stumped multitudes, I found the solution to be crystal clear.

We all get hundreds of e-mails we immediately delete. It seems like half our time is spent hitting the trash this communication button. The forward from my friend would have found a quick grave, but for the fact that he and I spent part of last evening together. He told me that I had to look at this problem that would keep me up all night.

Fifteen seconds after I opened the email, I was on the phone with him. I have it solved, I told him. I explained the predicate for the 'trick', but was informed that I must follow the problem to the 'next screen'. This screen made it appear that the computer could read minds.

After trying 2 or 3 permutations, the answer appeared in front of my eyes. It was like the scene in "A Beautiful Mind" where the hidden codes arise from the pages of the newspaper to be viewed by the insane professor. There was no magic in my computer, just simple mathematical manipulation.

How could a 3 year old not see the clues? What was it in the brains of all the others that didn't allow them to follow a path that had been so obvious?

Last weekend we were at a 'black tie' wedding. The routine in our household whenever I have to try to dress myself in formal attire is for Joanne to come over to me and assist me in putting on my cuff links. I don't know how one could be expected to master such an intricate art form.

There are clearly parts of my brain that have long laid dormant, while others remain active. One day I would like these parts to meet and strike up a conversation.That would be worth the price of admission.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Farming for answers

Ok class, how many of you read the Op Ed 'A Farm on Every Floor'? What a wonderful concept. Let's see, "in roughly 50 years, farming as we know it will no longer exist"; "changes in rain patterns could diminish India's agricultural output by 30 percent by the end of the century"; "the amount of arable land per person.... is projected to decline to about a third of an acre by 2050 (from an acre person in 1970").

The piece goes on to extol the potential financial benefits of vertical farms, "we have the technology now we need the money", contending that "the iconic building could generate significant tourist dollars, on top of revenue from sale of its produce". This is literally pie in the sky farming, where our economic and food goals are satisfied through 21st century concepts of indoor agriculture.

It is suggested that "part of the financing should come from the city government, as a vertical farm would go a long way toward achieving Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s goal of a green New York City by 2030."

The author concludes by saying that "when people ask me why the world still does not have a single vertical farm, I just raise my eyebrows and shrug my shoulders".

Guess what, I have the answer. Are grandma and grandpa in harm's way? Is the baby unable to eat today? Is there any money in it for me at a time when cash is no longer growing on those trees you may want to plant?

Wake up and smell the Republican messages that are stinking up the airwaves. We are a country that responds to immediate threats. Are we at code red, or not? Is the virus entering my town today? Is the stock market collapse taking everything out from my account as we are conversing? Is someone pulling the plug on grandma?

The Democrats have not learned to speak in soundbites, with an urgency that captures the attention of the public. Ice caps melting sounds like something rather interesting to watch. Al Gore's "Inconvenient Truth" does not show that next year the condo in Florida will be gone, or that we will be forced to wash our cars only on odd days. Rising oil prices almost sounds like a sign of economic promise.

The message is getting lost on its trip to our ears. We are inundated with information. To move forward, you have to be able to capture our attention, not our imagination.

Friday, August 21, 2009


I consider myself a 'bleeding heart liberal'. I don't agree with many of the concepts that leave people to rot in jails for a variety of crimes (eg drug possession) that don't warrant the punishment meted out. I am very far from an eye for an eye proponent. That being said, the recent decision of the Scottish government to release Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi on compassionate grounds is just wrong.

I believe he is in the final stages of prostate cancer, that will soon lay him to rest. Anyone's imminent death from cancer should not be a cause for celebration in a civilized society. But Al- Megrahi was convicted in 2001 of crimes relating to the murder of 270 people on Pan Am flight 103 on December 21, 1988. His life sentence is but a memory today. Why?

Are there no prison hospitals that could render compassionate care for Al- Megrahi? Is there no way in which those who are closest to Al- Megrahi can be permitted access to him in prison in his final days so that there can be some closure in the family? Is the only way in which to demonstrate compassion to hand him a ticket back to Libya where he was treated by many as a homecoming hero? President Obama suggested that house arrest in Libya is what was warranted,once Al-Megrahi touched down. The welcome given to Al-Megrahi was his answer.

To me, there is something rotten that is the predicate for this release. It is one government negotiating favor with another. Al- Megrahi is but a means to a political end that has little to do with compassion for a fellow human being.

I long ago represented a family member of one of the 270 victims in a matter in which proceeds of life insurance on the victim played a pivotal role. I saw his mom and brother and learned first hand of their pain. For them, and for many others, I believe that the decision to release Al- Megrahi is not one that can be understood or accepted.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A love story (sort of)


I know I drank too much last night.
I can tell by the ache in my head.
I know we had a big, bad fight.
I just can't recall what I said.

Messing up is what I do best.
I can't get out of my way.
Someday soon I'll give stupid a rest.
I can't wait to get to that day.

But for now, won't you please just open the door
I'm freezing out here in the rain
I'm bare assed and bare foot and soaked to the core
I'm an idiot who's in severe pain

I've slept outside for the very last time
Let me back in our home and your heart
I've been punished again for committing a crime
For today give me a fresh start

So for now, won't you please just open the door
I'm wheezing out here in the rain
I'm bare backed and bare head and soaked to the core
I'm in shock, I'm in need, I'm in pain

The windows are locked, the neighbors are staring
I can feel you just looking at me
Have some pity in your heart, a small bit of caring
I'm exposed for the whole world to see

Come on now, won't you please just open the door
I'm sneezing out here in the rain
I'm barely alive, I'm soaked to the core
I'm a wreck, I am naked, full of pain

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wanted Dead (Not Alive) - Chapter 1 of a tale of fiction with an uncertain future

It had been a disastrous year for him.His marriage of over 20 years had crumbled due to his abuse of drugs and his wife, not necessarily in that order. He had lost half of his net worth in that battle. With the costs of alimony and child support, the landscape was changing dramatically.

The stock market had swallowed up large portions of his remaining assets. He had some of his portfolio with one of the feeder funds to Madoff, and that had disappeared.

He had been left with his interest in the record company he had founded. It's value had not crippled him in the divorce, as the industry in general was staggering, and his company was hemorrhaging money. Bad choices in artists, bad management and bad luck had left him barely holding on. He was one step away from nowhere.

In looking back, it was easy to see why he had chosen this path. But, to the world it was to be a shock.

It all began innocently enough, as these things often do. He had been reading the newspaper when 2 stories collided in his mind. The first was a true tale involving a cop turned TV personality. He had developed a popular show tracking down criminals. He had made a habit of being the first on the scene to investigate. The police wondered for years how he was always able to get a jump on them. It turned out that he had been hiring killers to commit these murders, so he knew the how and when. He had become a murderer for increased TV ratings.

The other story involved a rival label. They reported that shortly after the death of Michael Jackson, there had been increased revenues of over $100,000,000. Michael's death brought renewed life to the company.

Michael and Elvis had, truth be known, seen better days way before their deaths. Michael was attempting a comeback tour at the time of his accidental overdose. Elvis, battling weight and a music industry that had in large part moved onto to another sound and another generation, was hoping to resurrect his career when he too was felled by a lethal dose of drugs. Many years after his death, the Elvis industry still produces much more revenue than it would have had the King survived.

He knew both of these performers had been icons, and he could not envision any of the old timers in his stable being able to create that kind of profit for him if any one of them died. There were certainly 3 or 4 who had been among the pantheon of stars in the 1970's and 1980's. They were still around, still on his on his label, but they hadn't generated a hit in years. Yet, for the baby boomers, and maybe for their children, there would be renewed fervor after death.

He also had several current stars who had seemed to be on the edge of greatness. One more hit, one more CD, one more dalliance with a movie star, or made up celebrity, and maybe. But not yet.

There was one performer however that was of particular interest.

He dismissed these thoughts from his mind. Times were tough, but they were tough for everyone.He would be able to find a way out without resorting to this madness.

But, as the days of summer turned into fall, the reality of the depths of his financial woes descended upon him. The company was on the verge of collapse. The endless pool of money into which he dipped with abandon through the years was now but a memory. His car payments, mortgage payments, alimony payments, college payments and the constant nagging of his ex-spouse created a crescendo of noise that he couldn't turn off. There was no escaping the reality that presented itself before him.

His mind returned to thoughts of murder.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


I imagine a cartoon of Barack Obama holding aloft the tiniest scrap of paper in his hand and exclaiming to the gathered throng that we have pushed through health care reform of monumental significance. Or another one of him, holding a sow's ear, with a caption, "trying to make a silk purse".

It seems that the power of hope has somewhere been misplaced. In the maze of bureaucratic red tape, special interest groups, media's distorted view of fair and balanced (giving equal time to nonsense), we have lost our way. Environmental changes have been watered down, or put on the back burner. We have learned of the abuses of the Bush administration but seem resigned to doing little or nothing about them. We are closing Guantanamo but can't even find a place to put the prisoners.We have seen the financial markets abused to the point of collapse, but for those who were the worst sinners it is still business as usual. And yet all of these disappointments seem to pale in relation to the failure to move the health care issue where it should be directed.

It appears that the President is either unwilling, or in an even worse scenario, unable to counter the forces that align against him. He is making deals with pharmaceutical companies that appear to do little more than allow them unfettered ability to continue to charge outrageous sums for their products. The lobbyists for the insurance companies have forced the President to discuss abandoning the only real prospect we have for trying to keep these companies in line. The replacement concept of some "co-op" that could seriously put a dent in the status quo for the insurers seems a remote and unrealistic possibility.

We don't seem to be governed by those who should be governing us. I imagine yet another cartoon of Obama standing in the corner, small and alone, while those that now seem to have the upper hand are gathered together large and imposing. They ask the question of him "Do you have anything else up your sleeve, or is that the best you can do?". We are waiting for the President to give them, and us, the answer we want to hear. For the moment, he seems to be saying nothing.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Death and taxes

We are back to death and taxes. We had added a third item to the list, but took our eraser to it yesterday. Tiger Woods leading a major going into the final round no longer equates to an automatic victory.

We knew, somewhere in the recesses of our mind, that this day might come. Tiger has 'only' won about 30% of the tournaments he has played in as a professional. (forget that there is no one on today's tour even remotely near him in percentage of wins). He missed the cut recently in the British Open while that other TW (Tom Watson) stole his place in the spotlight.

But, just because there was a statistical understanding of the impossibility of his NEVER losing when in the lead of a major, doesn't make it feel any less surreal to be confronted with Tiger's golfing mortality.

The best ever tag is a heavy one to lug around with you, especially when the expectations are so high almost from the moment of your birth. He was a phenomenon at 3 and has remained a phenomenon for 30 years. It wasn't that he didn't know how to lose, it was that he always knew how to win. Victory seemed to follow him around the course. It has now abandoned him, maybe only for the briefest of moments.

He still wins with incredible regularity. It often appears these days that he is somehow not nearly his best even in victory. Yet, one wonders if this is the beginning of the end of the dynasty. For the first time since 2004, no major titles were part of this year's collection. Beaten in the PGA by a much lesser light, in a mano-a-mano struggle, only reinforces the 'concern'.

Only time will tell if Tiger will lick his wounds and come back even fiercer next season. In the meantime, there is one less certainty in the world.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Recollections of My Time at Woodstock

What could I have been thinking about forty years ago? Why wasn't it on my radar screen? I would soon begin to grow my hair long. An Abraham Lincoln beard would make an appearance on my face the moment I got to college, which was then but a year in my future. What could have been so important that I don't even remember contemplating whether I wanted to go to Woodstock?

If I had been at Woodstock, I would have been able to speak of it casually over the past 4 decades. I could walk through life knowing that at any moment I could direct the conversation towards this topic and garner interest both in myself and in the experience. In my mind, it is like a life long pass to the 'I was once cool' club.

I was probably playing golf while the 400,000 were taking part in one of the seminal events of our generation. In all likelihood I was more concerned with my 3 putting than I was with Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. In truth, I would be a latecomer, and limited participant, in the alcohol and drug culture of our time. While it would be nice to create a revisionist picture of me as dancing naked in the mud on that historic weekend, I was probably in my Lacoste tee shirt eating a cheeseburger after completing my round at the golf course.

My Lincoln beard was gone within 6 months of its first appearance. When people now see old photos of me with hair, any hair, on top of my head, they laugh. I wouldn't be able to go to Woodstock if it was reprised tomorrow without making sure I had a full supply of Aleve and a good chair to protect my fragile back. Last night I attended a classical music concert, sitting outdoors under the stars. I was able to watch the performers on the overhead screens. I ate goat cheese and lox and watched as those gathered with me sipped their wine. Woodstock it wasn't but at my age it will have to do. Cool I never was and cool I never will be.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Sticks and Stones

Paul Krugman ("Republican Death Trip") poses the question if Mr. Obama can 'rise to the challenge of unreasoning, unappeasable opposition'. If this means can he stop the noise and convert the shouters, the answer is a self explanatory and resounding NO.

How can he convey his message when nobody on the other side is listening? The problem with the Democrats is that they attempt to inject rational thought into everything. They apply their set of logical assumptions to every issue. They fail to think like and act like the Republican fringe. They believe that the power of persuasion is a legitimate weapon at their disposal. They are wrong in their approach and their conclusions.

In recent years we have seen the Palin, Limbaugh rants and raves take on life despite Democratic opposition. It was not reasoned debate that stopped the Republican train in its tracks last year. It was the economic tsunami that did the job.

The Democrats should stop trying to answer to the lunatic fringe. They should learn what the Republicans have long ago mastered: ignore the message propogated by the other side. The town hall meetings have done nothing but give a face to the rant.

The Democrats must go about their business, create the best, most reasonable cost effective legislation they can and then shove it home with the votes of their own party. Forget the power of persuasion. Remember who they are and that they carry the big stick. For once, they have to act like Republicans. Use their power. They have the sticks and stones to break the Republican's bones on health care opposition and can assure through their position of control that Republican words can never hurt them. Man up Democrats.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


I saw a totally unrealistic movie last night. It was about a person who was dissatisfied with the course that her life was taking. To try to fill a void, she began to blog. She became obsessed with herself and with reporting to some mythical person out there who she hoped was listening. Her writing (and her underlying fascination with everything Julia Child) became the focus of her life, to the detriment of her relationship with her spouse, who tried to love her through her maze of self absorption. He alternately shook his head, or hers, to try either to convince himself that this egocentricity had a purpose, or to convince her that it did not. Ultimately, her will and drive proved strong and her husband and the world came along for her ride as a 'discovered' blogger. What a fantasy. I never met anyone in my life even remotely like this writer.

Writing this blog is like taking a powerful drug. You become addicted to listening to yourself. You think you are funny, clever, serious, different in a wonderful way. You believe there are others whose days revolve around the words you put on the page. You have difficulty separating the fantasy of this dream from the reality that it is not even 5AM and that there is no one on the other end waiting and anticipating. You try to step back, step away. But, like Al Pacino in one of the Godfather movies, just when you thought you had gotten free, you are pulled back in.

I wrote a post some time ago about others reminding me of my addiction by making an "L" (for loser) sign on his or her forehead when I launch into one of my self congratulatory moments. My wife basically has tattooed an "L" to try to slow me down. Her efforts have proven a dismal failure.

The worst part of the movie was that it was based on a true story. The woman, through luck, karma, or whatever force guides us through the universe, has her fantasy turn into reality. Her blog becomes a book. Her book becomes a movie. It is an addict's nightmare to actually think that there is something good at the core of the addiction. Ultimately, the movie makes self obsessiveness into something quite adorable. For a moment you believe that you are like Sally Field accepting her Oscar (they like me, they really like me). Then you remember it is still dark out, the world is asleep and there are no publishers leaving messages on your phone. And yet here I am, once again. Addicted.

Monday, August 10, 2009

A 5AM Contemplation of Possible Headlines in Today's Sport Section of the Boston Papers

1. Broom ball
2. Sweep Revenge
3. Red Sox DOD (Dead on Departure)
4. Stick a Fork in the Red Sox
5. Red Sox Lay 31 Eggs in a Row
6. A Titanic Series - Red Sox Sinking in East
7. Red Sox Bomb on Broadway
8. Do I Hear the Fat Lady Singing
9. Call the Doctor- Sox Show No Signs of Life
10.Sox Face Sweeping Changes
11.Boston Massacre(d)
12.Papi and Sox in Need of Supplements

Sunday, August 9, 2009

A Life of Importance

He sat on the deck awaiting our arrival. There was a calmness to his presence that had come with advancing age. The frenetic energy was now but a memory. We had visited with him sporadically over the past 4 years. It was more than time to pay our respects.

Alex hadn't seen him in over 3 years. The demands of life and the distance to travel had made it impossible to reconnect until now. When she walked up and hugged him, she cried.

He was now deaf, as well as blind. When he first came into our life, well over a decade ago, he dazzled us all. We had expected him to be full of rage and fear. After having been beaten blind, and had the remains of his eyes surgically removed to prevent infection, he should have been consumed by suspicion and mistrust. He was not.

Rather, he loved without qualification. He navigated his environment without any hint of disability. He was more than normal. He was astounding.

Through the years, being with him every day, we did not consider him to be different. He didn't demand any additional attention. He only wanted what all of us do, to be accepted and embraced.

When we had to part company that day over 4 years ago, it broke our hearts. When our family drove away, not quite sure if or when we would ever see him again, we hoped he understood what he meant to all of us.

We spent a few hours in his company today. I couldn't tell if he even remembered who we were. I know he has been surrounded by love from the moment he left our presence. We are grateful beyond words. But there is always a sadness when we leave him, never quite certain if this is our last goodbye. I hope he has considered his life a happy one and I hope he has many more days of pleasure to come.

As I bent down to plant a kiss on his nose when I was heading out the door, I am sure I saw his tail wag. Maybe he remembers me after all.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Crossing Lines

Three cheers for the _________________,____________________and blue. By a 68 to 31 vote of the Senate, we welcome Justice Sotomayor onto the Supreme Court. Apart from the 'affirmative actions' of 9 'Red dog Republicans', the remaining Republican Senators were all party line naysayers.

Pandering to the angry white and the special interest groups continues to be the Republican way of doing business. Last week, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky spoke of his opposition to the Sotomayor nomination. He stated that " a judge must be able to check his or her personal or political agenda at the courtroom door and do justice evenhandedly". I wonder why this statement has no application in his arena.

The reality is that 31 Republican Senators rejected the nominee because they could not leave their personal or political agenda outside the door of the Senate chambers. They could not see beyond the second Amendment advocates and the other special interest lobbyists who stood in front of them as they voted. They could not overcome the fact that they would be reporting to their constituents that they indeed favored a 'wise Latina woman' for all the right reasons.

We are watching as our health care reform debate is colored by a failure of some to speak honestly and openly for fear of reprisal. The Democrats are bogged down trying to counter misrepresentations and half truths as Republican politicians do what they do best.

There was no legitimate rationale for the Republican base to reject Justice Sotomayor. They fumbled and grasped at straws. They created issues where none existed. They chose to take the path of least resistance. They did not vote based on the qualifications of the nominee and in so doing, they did not do justice for the country. We will never be red, white and blue until the rhetoric and the partisanship is driven into hiding.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Rivalry

Is this fear or anticipation that I am feeling? As we head into the next chapter of this longest running drama, we await the latest twist. It is " As the World Turns" baseball style. Welcome to another Yankee- Red Sox series.

For the ballplayers, there is a month of pre-season drudgery followed by 162 regular season games and then, if all goes according to plan, yet another month of post-season baseball. They have lived and breathed this sport for years. I cannot imagine that their lives are nearly as impacted by the to and fro as are those of us who watch and wait. It is more than empathy, as we are experiencing feelings that the ballplayers most certainly do not.

How many of us may have our evening's ruined by one bad pitch, one misstep? How many of us will be yelling at an umpire or a coach or a player? How many of us have lived this story for untold past performances of this never ending rivalry and will do so, if we are lucky enough, for many tomorrows?

It is great fun and it is terrible tragedy. It is pain and pleasure, hope and disappointment. It is today and only this moment. Then it is tomorrow and it begins anew. I love everything about it, except when the Red Sox win. It is the best and worst of times every night. And then again. I love baseball.


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A Kodak Moment

I read ' Let The Big Dog Run' by Maureen Dowd but am not in full agreement with her conclusions. While she writes of Bill Clinton being willing to 'bow but not scrape', I think the North Korean view was that there was indeed much scraping going on.

It was a New York Times 'a picture is worth a thousand words' story in front of my eyes as I looked at the somber faces of the former President of the United States and his entourage, in the company of the North Korean leader. It reminded me of the videos we have seen through the years of those who have been captured being paraded in front of the cameras by their captors. Look, Kim Jong-il seemed to be saying, I have brought the past leader of the great and mighty US to me to plead for the release of 2 insignificant reporters.

North Korea wishes to be seen as a player on the world stage. It has been flexing its nuclear muscles for months in an attempt to make the world take notice. The capture and conviction of Ms. Ling and Ms. Lee was but one more strategic play on the part of this nation. Whether or not Mr. Clinton was smiling, or whether or not he apologized to the North Korean leader (even the report in the Times seems to be in conflict on this issue), the US was forced into a ' North Korean Kodak moment' to get the women back. It was more than, as Ms. Dowd suggests, North Koreans 'giving the limelight to Daddy to punish Mommy' for what they viewed as intemperate remarks recently directed at them by Hillary Clinton. It was so much more than that.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

I have nothing to say to you

I woke up this morning, scouring my mind and the paper for topics of interest to discuss with you. Dry well.

Therefore I am composing a piece about nothing. I don't think it will be easy writing without a subject. The beginning does not lead to the middle or the end. There is no suspense, no question to ponder. I cannot impart my unique wisdom when there is none to impart.

Yet, in a strange way, it is actually refreshing to talk to you about nothing in particular. There are no boundaries. I can wander here or there without remorse. In fact, I think I may just do that in the next paragraph. Or not. I am without constraint.

From this day forward, I may decide to write only about nothing. How can you criticize me if I never take a position? Where can I be wrong if I never try to be right? This is actually going to be fun.

I don't have to try to impress you. I am not doing much of a job at keeping your attention these days anyway. But, I digress as I have now started to discuss something and that can only lead to further distractions.

I may make this a very long post. Or, I may stop it right now. Freedom is a wonderful thing. But, freedom is a thing, and I have vowed not to discuss things, so I can't linger.

I am leaving this piece now, and I may come back to it shortly. Or, I may not. It doesn't really much matter. Or maybe it does. I will let you know what I decide. Or I may not.

I have returned after being away from this piece for several hours. It is of no import as I didn't lose my train of thought since I had none.

There seem to be endless possibilities with this form of communicating. Whereever I head is not off topic. Nothing is too small or too large. Or maybe I will determine that everything is.

I have nothing to say to you is, I believe, a perfect name for a book. I have spent many days regaling you with tales that take you nowhere, make hardly a ripple, and leave you unchanged. I think my real talent may be in making something out of nothing. I am at home there.

I have decided I have nothing more to say to you about nothing to say to you for the time being. Don't be surprised if I change my mind and have something more to say. Or not.