THINGS I OWE

I tend to blog along two tracks: immediate, real time responses to something I hear about or read, and things that I intend to write about (I actually carry the list onto my ‘to-do’ list in Outlook). And I’ve been pretty busy over the last day or so, getting some proposals out for new projects (the consultant’s never-ending, shark-like search for new work), working to finish up documenting the project I’ve been working on, helping the Middle Guy with his two deadline crises caused by a) a team member on one of his projects turning in an obviously-plagiarized-from-the-web analysis of ‘Hamlet’ (he asked me what to do, I told him he couldn’t turn it in because as the guy in charge, he was responsible if one of his team did something wrong and he knew about it); and b) the last-minute rush – caused by the delay in the Hamlet project – to get his presentation boards done in time for his forensics tournament today.
I am always ready to help my kids do their work, but I always refuse to do the work for them, unless what they ask me to do is basically clerical…I’ll proofread or do layout, or help with Word, but I won’t edit or write (I will comment and criticize, but I won’t do line-by-line editing)…so I was given six small JPEG images and had the job of Photoshopping them into something that could be printed at 11 x 17 down at the neighborhood Kinko’s and not be seen as abstract expressionist art.
I have three good graphic artists who sometimes do work for me; one does major work now for an entertainment company, one is a product designer for a musical instrument company, and one a successful freelance web designer and teacher of web designers.
I can’t tell you how amused they were to be getting IM’ed by me late into the night with dumb-ass Photoshop questions. I’ll be hearing about this for years.
It all got done, and I dropped him at the bus at 0700, wearing a suit, with a pillow and a lunch and a stack of foamcore boards…isn’t parenthood fun??
So two blog posts I’ve meant to do have gotten stacked up, and while I’ve wrestled with both in the back of my head, neither one has been pinned to the mat yet.
William Burton is on track to become the first North Korean Warblogger, and I owe him a more detailed explanation of why I think it’s not the same level of crisis that Iraq and the Islamists are.
My sketchy points:
First, North Korea is a client state of China, and always has been. This a) limits our freedom of action vis a vis NoKo (if we were to rename it like a trendy Manhattan neighborhood), because at some point the Chinese begin to get upset, and we have to deal with them…which we’d rather not do for a few hundred million obvious reasons (plus where would be get our cheap TV sets?); and b) gives us a better path to limit the NoKo actions, by getting the Chinese to do it for us. And I’ll bet the phone lines between us are just burning up these days.
Next, because while the NoKo government is run by a loon, he’s a relatively ineffectual loon, and their depredations have been limited pretty much to machine-gunning South Korean patrol boats, attacking U.S. soldiers who are pruning trees, and a bunch of other ineffective, meaningless ways they can rattle their sabers and demonstrate their well-known Korean equanimity (just a joke there – I studied martial arts with a number of Koreans, and did business with some Koreans, and I can tell you that equanimity is a word that just flat got left out of their dictionary).
There’s more geopolitical stuff as well, which goes to the fact that NoKo is, like East Germany a refuge for simpleminded tyranny, poverty, and ignorance in a region that is working it’s way out of those things, while the problem of Iraq is one that has ramifications for the whole Islamist conflict that seems to be brewing right about now.
I’ll do better later, honest.
And I owe Jeff Cooper a response to his thoughtful reply to my stepping on Tom Spencer’s toes. Again: notes:
First, I really appreciate Jeff’s calm effort to impose equanimity…he’s right about much of what he says, not right about some other stuff (which I’ll explore more), but the ‘role’ he takes on in his post is genuine, humane, acknowledged and appreciated.
He takes my comments to be a general criticism of the political climate, and then explains that for now, we need to stay on the reservation because: At this point, I’m much more concerned with keeping control of the Senate than I am with reforming the Democratic Party; as far as I’m concerned, we can return to that long-term project two weeks from today. That’s a legitimate position, and I’ll agree that my partisan geography (A Republican will get elected to the Senate from California when monkeys fly out of Brett Gurewitz’s butt – an inside joke for all you Bad Religion fans out there) doubtless effects my views.
But…I’ll hold Jeff to that. Let’s get through the election, and then we’ll talk about this some more. And my interest isn’t in reforming the Democratic Party, it is in figuring out how to reform politics as it is practiced here; it’s not in specific policies, but in the way that policies are created.
And as to Tom; no matter how much I step away and then come back, his replies remain simply annoying. No, Tom, I wasn’t criticizing the points made in the post that I clipped, I was criticizing your whole blog, or the three or four pages I read of it before I gave up.
Yes, I’m glad you think that bitter sarcasm will keep the embattled home team fired up, but my experience (in helping run campaigns and winning a few) is that it drives away the people you need to try pull over to your side and become less embattled, and leaves you with a core group of embittered, sarcastic outsiders. I was always under the impression that the point was to broaden the base and convert the heathen – that way you get to try and implement the ideas you espouse.
And I’m thrilled as punch that you are a loving parent and have an intellectually satisfying job, as opposed to my lonely, alienated drudgery rinsing sludge here in the fishmeal plant. Sometimes I try and sit and talk with my betters but the reality of class just keeps us apart. Or maybe the smell of fishmeal. It’s sad, really.
But I’ll leave everyone with one serious thought: Tom doesn’t think this matters, that the effect of this whole process is limited to the ten thousand or so who care about political blogs. He’s wrong. I’m not doing this to create or sell policy. I’m doing this because it forces me to express and defend my ideas; to sharpen and fact-check them. The blog isn’t how I use my ideas and isn’t my outlet for my ‘political’ urges – my life is. This is a dojo where I get to learn and practice things that I can take out into the world and use to be a better citizen and help build a better future for my kids.
I may do a fuller response, but it probably won’t be useful.

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