22 April 2010

As the Liberal Democrats' popularity rises in the run-up to Britain's general election, some are resorting to ad hominem attacks on its leader.

Do comments like these sound familiar to Americans? "Lobbyist, MEP*, no proper job on CV, doesn't sound very new and fresh to me."

*An MEP is a delegate to the European Parliament, which, although it doesn't decide a great deal, is a perfectly respectable international body. (It is no less serious than the U.S. Senate, and certainly more prestigious than being a community organizer).

20 April 2010

Why am I not surprised that there is a second recall campaign against Mayor Sam Adams?

The first campaign's leaders said it wasn't about homophobia, but Adams' illegal relationship with a 17-year-old intern, and his denial of said relationship. He admitted his wrongdoing in January 2009. The first recall vote was held in October 2009, and Adams was reaffirmed handily.

Of course, one vote of the people is never enough when it comes to puritanical crusades. I would like to think the people behind this would hold all politicians to such high ethical standards, but as we have seen over the past decade those who make ostentatious displays of "faith" and piety are often given a free pass.

Mark my words: when one American state elects its first openly gay male governor (and I am sure it will happen in my lifetime), there will be a vociferous recall campaign against him. He will be accused of 'setting a bad example for children.' No matter how big his margin of victory, he will have been 'foisted upon us by immoral elites.'

19 April 2010

Continuation of Thomas Carlyle poem


Thomas speaks his opening words;
Napoleon opens his regime.

Thomas learns his ABCs;
Jefferson doubles America's extent.

Dundas and Pitt squeeze the reins of Britain
Dumfriesshire sees its taxes go to placemen

Masons and weavers, farmers and tailors
Keep abreast of the times as they can
Seeing their grown sons turn into sailors
Thinking which one could be a great man.


His village schooling done, Edinburgh calls;
The winding road northward beckons.

O city of Hume, Robertson, Scott
Look not unkindly upon a rural lad

May he find his Socrates in your northern Athens,
May he master the knowledge to glorify God.

A dappled sky above, he takes himself to Lockerbie,
With oatcakes and berries for food,
Moving on to Moffat, well-wishing family,
Cleaving the high hills, alights at Holyrood.


Lectures in Latin, street games in broad Scots
Education comes to him in diverse forms.

The law regii Scotorum, materia medica
Both vie for his attention, seek to mold his mind

The land enfolds him, every local mound
Braid, Corstorphine, Calton Hill

Friends progress with their careers,
Set to become quite happy gents;
Thomas is gripped by enfeebling fears
Is the World naught but a floating tuppence?


A Sunday comes when the Spirit comes,
Hovering fiery above Arthur's Seat;

Not one shape in Legendre's Elements
Can define what is happening to him.

Footfalls on Leith Walk, walking to the sea
Christ is here among the merchants and loafers.

The skeptic brain reels at the thought made flesh,
Machine-Man evaporates in the ray of truth.
O there is grain in God's world to thresh,
Wisdom to be found among the uncouth.

08 April 2010

I have finished the first 27 chapters in Vanity Fair, Thackeray's great novel of high and low society. If you need a modern analogy, think Mad Men circa 1848; the events of the novel are thirty years before that, and nostalgia (along with its opposite) runs through the story consistently.

06 April 2010

The more I think about the iPad, the more it seems like we are living in 2500 BC Sumeria. An expensive tablet that you can read from!! You can even 'write' with the virtual keyboard and erase!! OMG! (Clay tablets were erasable too, as long as you didn't leave them in the hot sun too long).

This issue of changing the batteries perturbs me too. Those who say Apple is a cult might not be so wrong when suppliants--excuse me, customers--must tramp to the nearest Apple Store to request the arcane service of changing the batteries.