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29 November 2000: radio free.

Driving home last night, the subject on KPCC/NPR was (surprise) the election saga. (Actually it was a rerun of the AirTalk show from that morning.) I forget who the guest was at that moment, but host Larry Mantle commented that when they have a Republican guest in to give their opinion on the situation, the phones light up with angry Democrat/"liberal" callers -- not just to argue with the guest, but simply upset that NPR would give a Republican air time at all. When there is a Democrat guest, there is no such protest from any Republican listeners. Mantle was curious whether that simply reflected show/station demographics, or a real difference in attitudes.

I think many Democrats and Republicans do hold the other side in contempt. Too many people these days do not allow the possibility that someone who disagrees with them may have a valid point of view; rather, the other side must be either evil or stupid. Here and there, it may be true, but not nearly as often as people seem to want to believe. Exploring why differences of opinion exist, and trying to forge creative bridges between these differences, takes work, patience, and intelligent debate instead of slogans and posing. I guess that's not as much fun as chanting and yelling at each other over a police blockade. Meanwhile, displays of arrogance and condescension on both sides only push things farther downhill.

Speaking without listening is one thing. But even worse is not wanting the other side to even be able to speak. I'm a Democrat. So I'm more likely than not to disagree with any given Republican. But who the hell is anyone to say that no Republicans should be allowed to speak their point of view on National Public Radio?!


24 November 2000: home cookin.

I was such a lazybones. I let my mom and aunt do almost all the work, though I did hang around in the kitchen for some of the time. Reverting to childhood roles is easy to do in your family home during one of those family gathering type holidays, and the cousin with the two kids couldn't make it, so I ended up being the youngest one there. But it was fun to hang out with the other cousins just relaxing and eating and talking, instead of playing with the little kiddos -- I'll catch up with them at Christmas. For now, we talked of art, China, Italy, work, other relatives, ... felt almost like I was all growed up.


16 November 2000: fair game.

how about: all the counties of florida. the same method, pick a method, any method, but the same one for all the counties. ONE further time.

and then it will be time for someone to act, you know. PRESIDENTIAL.

gore has, it seems, suggested this. bush said no. reassuring me that i voted for the correct person. but at this point, if this "winner" is going to get stomped by this "loser" in four years, as per historical similarities, i am reaching the point where i don't care who "wins" this round.

but then i remember the national forests and wildlife refuges, and i care again.

i think typing in all-lowercase is either informal laziness or a way of verbally assuming a fetal position.


14 November 2000: carpet comfort.

In Tibet, back in September, I bought a carpet. I hadn't gone into the factory determined to buy one, I was tagging along with my group; but this one imprinted on my psyche as soon as I saw it. Of simpler design and calmer colors than some -- just the sort of earth tones that I prefer -- it was small enough to be just within my financial reach. I promptly sat on it until a helpful lad rolled it up and carried it out to the front for me. The carpet followed me via "slow boat from China," arriving in Los Angeles about a month after I did.

My red-brown (and green and gold and burnt-orange) carpet lies quietly on the floor of my apartment, upon my grey wall-to-wall carpeting, between my futon and my TV. Its thick clipped wool is fuzzy twixt my toes. I don't know why this object soothes me so. Why do certain colors and textures "feel right"? or, create vague unease, or cause no reaction whatever? I'm glad different people have different tastes and soul colors, it's much more interesting that way, and otherwise (to paraphrase the mythical old chief) everyone would want my carpet. I just can't help being curious... how? why?


8 November 2000: why are we here?

a nail,
a shoe,
a horse,
a rider,
a battle,
a kingdom.

The want of a nail made the blacksmith pale:
"I shoed that horse!" he was heard to wail.
"I little thought we would come to naught
Through my own hands, that tipped the scale."


7 November 2000: who are you?

and the sun rose.

Golden the first light, touching the high peaks,
flowing down outcrop and gully,
reaching out to the first sparkling edges
of the bank of snow built up over months.
Grown mote by speck, dust by droplet,
the whole of the drift weighed heavy on each small stone,
ready to flow downhill, by quick or by gentle,
and would not be denied: this was the day.


6 November 2000: what do you want?

A few flecks of quartz and granite,
stirred by the growing breeze in the high reaches,
have thrown themselves into space, bouncing, glinting, sliding down and away.
The avalanche hangs poised, awaiting the heat of the sun.
There is still time for the pebbles to vote.


5 November 2000: my mom, mrs. malaprop.

My mother's breakfast news of today was from the local paper, about a young man (16) who was paralyzed in an accident during junior lifeguard training three months ago. The family's multilevel house was very wheelchair-unfriendly, with the bedrooms on a different floor from the main living areas. A fireman friend of his family, who did construction work on the side, volunteered and gathered a bunch of other volunteers to convert the family's deck into a wheelchair-friendly suite. Mr. A, a contractor, was one of the people listed in the article who helped.

Mr. A is one of our uphill neighbors, and we have direct knowledge of the fact that he is a nasty, vicious person (though with expert charm potential if deemed necessary). My mother was perturbed that he would get favorable notice from this, and possibly business from people unsuspecting of his true nature, this publicity being his true reason for helping.

My dad and I felt that just because he has demonstrated his violent temper in feuding with us, doesn't mean it's impossible for his motives in this case to be altruistic. We didn't deny that she may be right; but we wished she would in turn admit the alternate possibility.

Mom was adamant: "The leopard's not going to change his spots in the middle of the stream."

We might have pressed the point, except we were laughing too hard.


4 November 2000: the aggregate weight of individuals.

The coming Tuesday is only one of many moments when I will wish I could look down alternate timelines to see the consequences of each path, taken and not, branching out and out to the far reaches.

The avalanche has not yet begun.
There is still time for the pebbles to vote.


30 October 2000: rinse cycle, drip dry.

Yesterday a rainstorm passed through town, giving the Los Angeles desert some honest homegrown water (well, Pacific-grown) with a healthy dose of wind to accompany. Quite a cozy afternoon to spend inside, once I managed to get there. I love going to sleep under warm covers with rain and wind outside; the only thing missing was a lightning show. Far as I know there hasn't been a good one here since the big El Nino storms of 1982-83 (and I have trouble convincing some people that those thunderstorms existed, but I and my dolls remember).

This morning when I got up and looked outside - !!! From my apartment I saw the new standard-time sunlight reflecting clean bright whites from the Fox theater pinnacle and the BofA building; I saw the hills on the far side of the 405 freeway not as indistinct silhouettes, but as darker- and lighter-green textured slopes, their ridges sharp green edges against a perfectly clear blue sky. The cars nearby were shiny and glinting against the dark wet asphalt, and the trees next to my building still had little crystal spheres of water here and there on their leaves and needles. The crisp air even *smelled* sparkling.

As I drove to work, I had to keep making myself pay attention to driving, instead of to the hills on each side. It felt like I could see the sharp edges of each bush and tree, and their true green and yellow and sage colors. And I could see all the way across the valley to the mountains on the far side. More color. No haze. All crisp. If this isn't a day for playing hooky, I don't know what is. All the postcard photographers in the Greater L.A. area will be crowding the primo spots all day. I wish I could be there with them.


25 October 2000: freedom of conversation.

Today I happened to wonder about the status of the fight to preserve the public domain. Did you know that Mickey Mouse's copyright would have expired in 2003 if Disney and others hadn't successfully lobbied for the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998? The heirs and beneficiaries of George Gershwin and other 1920s- and 30s-era composers and authors also pushed the bill because they wanted to keep getting royalty payments for another 20 years. Now, with the bill, a copyright lasts for 70 years after the death of its creator, instead of 50; works created by "corporate authors" are copyrighted for a flat 95 years instead of 75.

I'm in favor of rewarding creativity. But I'm also in favor of a free flow and sharing of ideas throughout the culture. Copyright terms of this length aren't rewarding anyone except those people lucky enough to own the copyrights -- at the expense of people who want to use or perform the works. And, someone who owns a particular film might decide not to bother licensing its distribution, leaving it to quietly disintegrate in a vault. By the time it finally enters the public domain, there might not be much left -- even if anyone remembers that it exists.

A group of professors and law students -- joined by book and music publishers, film restorers and archivists, and others interested in preserving the public domain -- filed a lawsuit, Eldred v. Reno, challenging the constitutionality of the act. At this website, I learned that the first round of the lawsuit failed. But they are appealing, and were supposed to have presented arguments on October 5. I wonder when the ruling will be.

Meanwhile, they suggest that October 27, the date of the bill's signing by President Clinton, be considered a sort of "Public Domain Remembrance Day." So I'm doing my small part, here, to spread the knowledge of this issue just a few bits farther (hello, all five readers!) -- lack of public awareness is part of the problem.

[ Opposing Copyright Extension ]


23 October 2000: why I yelled at my car radio today.

I tuned in late to a KPCC program where host Larry Mantle was talking to the Republican and Democratic candidates for California state assembly (?) from the district that includes La Crescenta(?). I believe the Republican's name was Susan Carpenter. She asserted that we the people pay too many taxes and ought to get much of our money back from the incompetent government bureaucrats. Everyone ought to get a postcard to mail back with two choices: "give me a refund" or "I donate my money to the government, to be used for [specific purpose]" -- highways, for example. The people should be able to directly control how their money is spent, instead of the government pretending it knows better how it should be spent.

Larry asked, what if I want to support a government social program, but my neighbor meanwhile gets to keep his money? Would I still want to give, in that situation, where only some people are supporting it instead of everyone?

Laughed Ms. Carpenter, "Well, isn't that being rather selfish, Larry?"


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