GAH. I stay away from the internet all day, from email and twitter, and I don't hear cries and alarums. The redirect page did not redirect. As far as the world was concerned, Tuesday was Bleatless.
There was a Bleat yesterday. There's always a Bleat, M-F. Even if there isn't there's something to tell you why. If the redirect doesn't work, look up at your address bar and tweak the address to reflect today's date. I apologize for asking you to care about these details, but apparently I can't be trusted with these things.
Short title: WHY I WORE CARGO SHORTS TO ST. PETER’S CATHEDRAL
A peaceful evening in a peaceful suburb in the middle of the continent. It could be 1978.
It could be 1979, too.
I remember getting a letter from a friend while I was traveling down south as a seed salesman for Northrup King in 1979; she was all a-twitter about the Nicaraguan Revolution, which she saw as the twin to the peachy-neat Iranian Revolution earlier that year. The People were finally going to be free. Everywhere! (Offer not valid in USSR.) (Nor, of course, did it need to be, don’t you know.) Those parts of the letter I glossed over, looking for some indication as to why letters from her friend, aka my girlfriend, had ceased. You can guess how that ended. At least she married the guy.
A lifeguard. It had to be a lifeguard.
Can we say “a-twitter” anymore, or has the word been consumed by Twitter itself?
I’m here because daughter went to serve Swedish meatballs at church. Part of the annual Fellowship Drive, where people eat aforementioned meat-wads in cream sauce and iceberg lettuce and stale buns, all the staples of church basements. There’s probably three hundred people to feed. They have the dinners every weeknight. For a month. It’s just a machine, that place, but lest you think - as some apparently do - that it exists to funnel money from the gullible to the cackling leaders who sit atop a pile of moneybags, you can target your contributions rather specifically. Everything can go to the various social-service efforts, for example. The church has an impressive number of poverty-assistance programs.
This often comes to news to some people.
So I dropped her off and drove south, ate something that’s not as good as the meatballs I’ll have tomorrow when it’s our turn to go to dinner, and now here at a coffee shop. The trivia question for the day: how many gallons of water can a camel drink in 10 minutes?
“That’s not trivia,” I said. “That’s specific information known only to people who have close acquaintance with the subject.”
The coffee-pourer person shrugged.
“Thirty-two,” I said.
“Close! It’s thirty.”
“Well, I am a camel wrangler in my spare time. But still, for the general public, that’s not fair at all.”
“I’ll give you ten percent off.”
“That’s completely fair.”
Thus are the rules so casually abandoned.
A day of significant accomplishments: wiped all the thumb drives and flash cards. After a while you accumulate these things in ever-increasing capacities. You can’t throw out the 1GB drive that seemed ENORMOUS AND MIRACULOUS once but now is laughably small, because, well, it’s a gigabyte. You never now when you need one. There are some 2GB, a 4GB, an 8GB, and a 32GB. What makes it annoying is that they’re all different in shape. One of those moments when you sigh, and think: is it really necessary to enforce design consistency here? Can’t I just have a drawer full of the damned things, and leave it at that?
As for the cards, they’re fine; never can have enough, but tell if this is crazy: rather shoot on two 16 GB than 1 32 GB, because I don’t trust any medium. You say: hey, wait a minute, shooting video - you’re not shooting on a camcorder, are you? Why yes. Yes I am. The picture’s better. It’s more stable. It captures motion better. Well, you say, at least that obviates the need for a point-and-shoot camera. Actually, no. The pictures on those are better than the stills on the camcorder. Well, you say, at least you don’t get out the cellphone to take pictures. Actually, no. The iPhone has a few panoramic apps I use, and while my point-and-shoot has a panoramic function, it stinks. So yes. When I'm on vacation I have my phone, camcorder, and point-and-shoot.
Short title: WHY I WORE CARGO SHORTS TO ST. PETER’S CATHEDRAL
Picked up daughter from church. How’d it go?
“I hate people.”
There, that’s just what you want, coming out of church. C’mon. Why?
“They’re messy! I found 20 unopened packets of butter and some people put butter in the Jell-O.”
Perhaps that was kids. Now you know. Did you serve anyone, or just clean up?
“I served coffee.”
Dad’s heart swells: my little girl is a waitress now. I’m so proud.
“And people were rude about that, too. Didn’t say thank you. One lady just held her cup up.”
Remember this day, my child. Remember this day.
I've been watching this:
Man, I wish it was better. I think it gets better. I hope it gets better. It's "M Squad," which I refered to a while ago when talking about Crime-Show Jazz. Lee Marvin, all ten feet of him, spotlit against the Chicago skyline: you can't miss, can you? Well, I've seen two, and it's a rather straightforward by-the-books cop show.
Then again, I'm just watching the first season. No opening credits like this, so far - and before you watch, let me tell you why I'm posting this. You want to talk product placement? This is product placement.
For heaven's sake, Pall Malls were mild? Those things were like inhaling roofing tar. I suspect that all those unfiltered numbers were heavy by nature, and so they pushed "mild" as a way of saying "you won't double over with a coughing fit - well, today, anyway."
The point here is not to excuse the terrible acts perpetrated by committed extremists and others around the world in reaction to the video, or to condone physical violence as a response to words — any kind of words. The point is to emphasize that U.S. law makes a distinction between speech that is simply offensive and speech that is deliberately tailored to put lives and property at immediate risk. Especially in the heightened volatility of today's Middle East, such provocation is certainly irresponsible — and reveals an ironic alliance of convenience between Christian extremists and the Islamist extremists they claim to hate.
The reason I keep going on about this is simple: it reveals two pertinent facts about our chattering betters.
First, the obvious: If Christians in the south rioted over Bill Maher’s anti-religion movie, this would be a lesson about the necessity of Free Speech in the face of protests, with a whiff of amused contempt about the excitable yahoos. If Christians in Africa rioted over the movie, there would be a more nuanced response, because of the horrors of colonialism are a chock that stops whatever remains of the Western press’ moral sense, and also the general who-knows-who-cares attitude towards Africa you get anywhere but the BBC. I mean, it’s a mess. Put it on A6. If Christians in China rioted over the movie, it would be a story about the government’s difficulty to control information in the Internet age, and there’d be a reference to the Falun Gong crackdown, and it would all peter out with a quote from someone in a college office somewhere.
Can’t quite imagine Buddhists rioting over it. Can’t quite imagine Hindus giving a rancid fig for Bill Maher’s opinion. Can’t imagine Copts or Zoroastrians or devotees of Odin pounding the table and shouting THIS SHALL NOT STAND and marching off with a gun to set things right. For that matter, can’t imagine Christians in the South, Africa, or China deciding that the rest of the day shall be devoted to yelling about the existence of a movie written and performed by a comedian who’s just got religion’s number, totally, like no one else ever.
So it’s almost as if -
No, that’s silly.
Okay, I’ll say it. It’s almost as if the author of the piece is carving out a First Amendment exception based on the possible reaction of a particular set of people in a particular place in the world.
Oh, it’s just a little exception. Sure, “you can’t cry fire in a crowded theater” becomes “you can’t mail someone in another country a picture of a match.” But that’s a hard and fast line. You can see quite clearly where the emanation ends, and the penumbra begins.
The author continues:
The point is to emphasize that U.S. law makes a distinction between speech that is simply offensive and speech that is deliberately tailored to put lives and property at immediate risk.
Like I say, I haven’t seen it. Never will. Don’t care. Not the point. But it’s possible that if I did see it, I would agree with the author. Gosh! There were moments in the video that were tailored - not reflexively tailored, but deliberately tailored - to put lives at immediate risk. If I had the sort of acumen and aesthetic perspicacity the author possesses, I might also see something else: it intended to put property at immediate risk. Surely someone told the editor: what are you doing, dubbing dialogue over that scene? Don’t you know this may result in someone in Egypt throwing a rock through a window?
Do you think you can hide behind the 1st Amendment when you deride the Prophet from the comfort of an LA editing suite?
Fact #2: As I’m sure countless others have noted, there’s a reason it’s the First Amendment. But not to worry! We can chip away here and there and modify and adjust it for the realities of a new world. Isn’t this how living things evolve?
Honest to Bog, there are times I think these people would gladly swap an iron-clad inviolable 16th Amendment for a mutable 1st. The 16th, after all, guarantees the right of the government to relieve you of your property, and the entire edifice of the egalitarian impulse requires that power.
Just so we’re clear: I have no problem with airlines kicking someone off for wearing a shirt that has the effenheimer, or people engaging in ill-conceived boycotts against an artist who says this or that, or someone posting long loud screeds about something stupid someone said on Fox. This is about a purportedly smart person saying that the 1st Amendment does not cover a YouTube video because people in other countries may respond with violence. And so I assume she would be comfortable with prosecution.
It’s not the people who do the prosecuting who will be our downfall. It’s the people who are comfortable with it, note the story in the paper with a quick nod of the head, and move on to the lifestyle section. Oh look.