Saturday, April 30, 2005

Poem Of the Day

Fishing on the Susquehanna in July by Billy Collins

I have never been fishing on the Susquehanna
or on any river for that matter
to be perfectly honest.

Not in July or any month
have I had the pleasure--if it is a pleasure--
of fishing on the Susquehanna.

I am more likely to be found
in a quiet room like this one--
a painting of a woman on the wall,

a bowl of tangerines on the table--
trying to manufacture the sensation
of fishing on the Susquehanna.

There is little doubt
that others have been fishing
on the Susquehanna,

rowing upstream in a wooden boat,
sliding the oars under the water
then raising them to drip in the light.

But the nearest I have ever come to
fishing on the Susquehanna
was one afternoon in a museum in Philadelphia

when I balanced a little egg of time
in front of a painting
in which that river curled around a bend

under a blue cloud-ruffled sky,
dense trees along the banks,
and a fellow with a red bandanna

sitting in a small, green
flat-bottom boat
holding the thin whip of a pole.

That is something I am unlikely
ever to do, I remember
saying to myself and the person next to me.

Then I blinked and moved on
to other American scenes
of haystacks, water whitening over rocks,

even one of a brown hare
who seemed so wired with alertness
I imagined him springing right out of the frame.

Sailing Alone around the Room: New and Selected Poems
Sailing Alone around the Room: New and Selected Poems

Friday, April 29, 2005

Results of my recent Rorschach Test

Long-Term Prognosis:

There is no long-term hope for you. Life will never get any better for you. You're screwed. It looks like Hard Times ahead for you (notice the capital letters). Your unhappiness will have no lower limit; despair and mental anguish will be your constant companions. You might as well grab a gun and go on a shootin' spree. Oh, wait, that was someone else. Never mind.

Ain't it the truth.
I Want One! Right NOW! Faunch, faunch, snort, gimme now , Gimmenow!!!

Announcing the World's First Complete Digital Accordion
Roland is pleased to introduce another milestone in digital musical instrument history —the V-Accordion. Models FR-7 and FR-5 are the first instruments of their type to successfully integrate powerful digital technology such as new Physical Behavior Modeling (PBM) into a traditional accordion design, offering performance features and authentic sounds that appeal to a wide range of musical styles.(more)

Additional specs

Update: Just found out that one of these beauties will set me back $5900. Let's see, one semester's tuition. The accordian. One semester's tuition. The accordian. HMMMM. No problem, I think that I'd be perfectly happy living in that nice warm corrugated box over there and hell, food and meds are over rated anyway. Oh damn. BUT I WANT IT I TELL YOU! Maybe I should just rob the liquor store...
Poem of the Day

Samurai Song by Robert Pinsky

When I had no roof I made
Audacity my roof. When I had
No supper my eyes dined.

When I had no eyes I listened.
When I had no ears I thought.
When I had no thought I waited.

When I had no father I made
Care my father. When I had
No mother I embraced order.

When I had no friend I made
Quiet my friend. When I had no
Enemy I opposed my body.

When I had no temple I made
My voice my temple. I have
No priest, my tongue is my choir.

When I have no means fortune
Is my means. When I have
Nothing, death will be my fortune.

Need is my tactic, detachment
Is my strategy. When I had
No lover I courted my sleep.

Jersey Rain: Poems
Jersey Rain: Poems

Thursday, April 28, 2005

from MSNBC via Rurality: Ee IS Not Bleedin' Demised, Dammit!

''Extinct'' ivory billed woodpecker sighted

The ivory-billed woodpecker, feared extinct for 60 years, has been seen in a remote part of Arkansas, ornithologists said Thursday.
Several experts have spotted and heard at least one and possibly more ivory-billed woodpeckers deep in an ancient cypress swamp in eastern Arkansas. One was videotaped last year.
''This is huge. Just huge,'' said Frank Gill, senior ornithologist at the Audubon Society. ''It is kind of like finding Elvis.''
It is just a hop, skip and a jump, as a woodpecker flies, from the last reliable sighting of the bird in Louisiana in 1944.
The large black-and-white birds have distinctive white wing patches and measure at least 20 inches in height. Males have a red crest.
''This is the most spectacular creature we could ever imagine rediscovering,'' John Fitzpatrick of the Cornell University Laboratory of Ornithology in New York told a news conference.
''For three generations this bird has been a symbol of the great old forests of the southern United States,'' he added.
''It is a flagship of the blunders of excess of overharvesting. Nothing could be more hoped for than this Holy Grail.''

WOO HOO! Some good news for a change.
Many thanks to the Nature Conservancy and to the Depts of Agriculture and Interior for securing the habitat.

Lots of great info from Cornell Lab of Ornithology, co-ordinators of the Ivory Bill project
Video of the discovery
More info:
from Birding America
from NPR
from The NYTimes
from Outside
from Science
from US Fish & Wildlife Service

Special thanks to Dave at via negativa for link pointers. His is the first blog I read everyday. It should be yours as well.

from Science a PDF of the full text of the article confirming the discovery
from US Fish & Wildlife Service a nice info page with an artist sketch of the ivory bill, a map of habitat areas in the southeast US which may harbor other reminant populations and a short field guide entry on the 'Lord God' birds, including a description of calls and feeding sounds
Poem of the Day

The Journey by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice--
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
'Mend my life!'
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do--
determined to save
the only life you could save.

New and Selected Poems: Volume One
New and Selected Poems: Volume One

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Poem of the Day

Spring is like a perhaps hand by e.e.cummings

Spring is like a perhaps hand
(which comes carefully
out of Nowhere)arranging
a window,into which people look(while
people stare
arranging and changing placing
carefully there a strange
thing and a known thing here)and

changing everything carefully

spring is like a perhaps
Hand in a window
(carefully to
and from moving New and
Old things,while
people stare carefully
moving a perhaps
fraction of flower here placing
an inch of air there)and

without breaking anything.

Selected Poems
Selected Poems

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

from our roving reporter Bill Spangler: Curious George Goes To De-Tox

Back in the mid-1990s, I worked at a Zany Brainy toy store in suburban Philadelphia for about two years. You may not know the name Zany Brainy; it was never a national chain, and these days, it’s actually a former chain, having gone out of business a year or two ago.
At any rate, for most of its corporate life, ZB featured educational books and toys. There were times, though, when the books and toys were a bit too educational.
Once we received a half-dozen copies of a Georges Simenon novel to put on our remaindered book table. I don’t remember the title of the book now, but I can tell you that it was an Inspector Maigret novel and that it opened with a prostitute, who was also a drug addict, trying to remember what she did the night before and who she did it with. I’m pleased to report that this item didn’t make it out to the sales floor.
On the other hand...
At the end of a shift one day, while I was putting card-backed items back on hooks, I was stopped cold by a set of small magnets bearing drawings of Curious George, the star of the classic picture book series. What stopped me was a picture of George himself, hugging a bottle clearly labeled ETHER, trying to get the biggest toke that his little monkey lungs would allow.
I took the magnets to my manager and asked her if we needed to do anything about them. She said no, although I wasn’t convinced at first. Having worked as a reporter on and off since age 16, I think I have an idea of how little it takes to get people agitated. In this case, though, the manager was right. If we ever received any complaints about promoting the use of drugs, I never heard any.
I guess you could say that I was agitated by the drawing, but not because I wanted it off the shelves. I wanted to know where it came from. It was drawn in the same general style associated with the series, but I thought that would be relatively simple to imitate. I vaguely remembered Curious George shorts running on Captain Kangaroo when I was growing up, but I really didn’t know much about the character in general. Could the drawing actually have come from one of the books? There was only one way to find out.
I went to the books.
Or tried to, anyway. I quickly discovered that there were a lot of Curious George books, and they fell into different categories. George was created by the husband and wife team of Hans and Margret Rey. The website for Houghton Mifflin, the publishers of the Curious George books, says that Hans was primarily responsible for the art and Margret was primarily responsible for the text. The Reys produced just seven books, some credited just to H.A. Rey, some to H. A. and Margaret. But there were other books, adapted from the animated shorts. And still others, attributed to various writers and artists (although the artist’s credit is often followed by “in the style of H.A. Rey.”)
I decided that one of the original books, Curious George Goes To the Hospital, would be a reasonable place to start. But it turned out to be a dry well. George goes to the hospital after he swallows a piece of a jigsaw puzzle belonging to The Man With the Yellow Hat, his companion/owner. George takes a pill that makes him “sleepy” and the piece is recovered. End of story. Published in the mid-1960s, the book was apparently written to help children calm their fears about going to the hospital.
The story about George’s problem with ether turned out to be in a book written by the Reys years earlier: Curious George Takes a Job. This story starts with George living in a zoo but since he is “always very curious. He wanted to find out what was going on outside the Zoo.” So it isn’t long before George is out of his cage, raising havoc.
While avoiding some irate workmen, George breaks his leg. That’s what puts him in the hospital, and leads to his encounter with ether. The Reys regularly point out that George is a “good little monkey,” but they also point out that “little monkeys sometimes forget.” In this case, what George seems to have forgotten is to Just Say No.
Here’s how the incident is described:
“Suddenly his head began to swim.
Then he felt as if he were flying.
Then rings and stars danced before his eyes.
Then everything went dark...he was so fast asleep that finally
they had to put him UNDER THE SHOWER!
How surprised he was when he woke up!”

Let’s hope.
Interestingly, H.A. Rey breaks this sequence into comic-book style panels, and most of the text above is presented as handwritten captions. The overall effect is...well, it’s pretty trippy.
The scene didn’t answer all my questions. How common, for example, is substance abuse among children’s books characters? What does Christopher Robin do up in his room, with his plush animals? What is fairy dust, anyway?
And I wasn’t the only one asking these questions. Several months later, while shopping at Suncoast video store, I found a Curious George T-shirt on display. George was lying in the foreground, a blissed-out grin on his face, while in the background guessed it...that ether bottle.
I may have made a noise. I know I slapped one hand over my mouth. I felt like I had just discovered that I wasn’t wearing any pants.
In order to put this article together, I reread Curious George Takes a Job. On one page, George and the bottle are set in approximately in the pose I just described, as part of a larger picture. It probably would be fairly easy for an artist to adapt the shot, but exactly who adapted it, and how common this T-shirt is...well, they’ve been added to my list of questions.
An animated feature starring Curious George-- old-school, pen-and-ink animation, as I understand it--is scheduled to come out in February, 2006. Will Farrell will be providing the voice for The Man In the Yellow Hat. No word yet on the ether bottle.

The Complete Adventures of Curious George
The Complete Adventures of Curious George

Poem of the Day

The Lake Isle of Innisfree By William Butler Yeats

I WILL arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honeybee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the mourning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.

The Poems: The Collected Works of W.B. Yeats
The Poems: The Collected Works of W.B. Yeats

Love Means Never Having to Say You're Saudi!

Thanks for the title to curveball from a post in the Eschaton comments.
from Daily Times via dumbfoundry: A love poem from Guantanamo Bay: Bangles befit pretty woman and handcuffs brave man

PESHAWAR: Among the old leather volumes in the library of Abdul Rahim Muslim Dost is a black plastic binder full of rumpled letters he wrote, sent from the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, reports Washington Post.

At the bottom of each form is a perfunctory salutation. The rest is taken up with the poems that helped Dost keep his sanity during nearly three years of confinement. “Bangle bracelets befit a pretty young woman,” begins one of the poems. “Handcuffs befit a brave young man.” The letters were one in a series of measures the Afghan-born author said he took to record the torrent of imagery and insights that flooded his brain nearly every day of his captivity.

At first, deprived of paper and pen, Dost memorised his best lines or scribbled them secretly on paper cups. Later, he was supplied with writing materials and made up for lost time by producing reams of poems and essays — only to have all but a few of the documents confiscated by the US government upon his release..

“Why did they give me a pen and paper if they were planning to do that?” Dost asked last week with evident anguish. “Each word was like a child to me — irreplaceable.””

Dost was back in his library on Friday. It was just two days after the US government had delivered him and 15 other former prisoners to Afghan authorities. As soon as he was freed, Dost headed east to Peshawar, his home since the 1980s.

Many of us say that we write poetry because we have to, but this man truly DID have to write to survive. He remained sane thanks to his poetry. It may be too much to ask the troglodytes who run Gitmo to return the pieces of his soul that they have stolen from him, but we can hope they will. That's what makes us poets, I guess.
from By Neddie Jingo!: Mind in the Gutter

New York Times headline, certainly got my attention:

Few See Taint in Service by Pope in Hitler Youth

Well, I should certainly hope you wouldn't... I mean, after all those priests...

Oh. Wait.

Never mind.

A. Fucking. Hem.
from uTopianTurtleTop:WW2 v. WOT -- ONE MONTH TO GO

1,347: Number of days from the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, to VJ Day (Victory in Japan) on August 15, 1945.

1,323: Number of days from the airplane-bombing of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, to today.

If Osama makes it to May 21, he will have survived the self-declared world's only superpower in a presidentially-declared war longer than did Tojo, Hitler, and Mussolini working together.

It's pitiful that the current administration enjoys a stronger reputation on national security than the opposition party. Pitiful, outrageous, [your adjectives here].

Hey, as the Dear Leader says, "I've been working, we've all been working, and it is work, this job, fighting terra, it's work."

So whadda younz say, shouldn't maybe we cut Him some slack....


The evil corporatist oligopolist scumbag should rot in Gitmo for his sins, along with his evil bionic puppetmaster, Dark Lord Cheney, and that little pigfucker Rumsfeld.
fron AMERICAblog via thoughtcrimes: "Microsoft paying Religious Right leader Ralph Reed $20,000 a month retainer has learned that Microsoft is currently paying a $20,000 a month retainer to former Christian Coalition head Ralph Reed's consulting firm Century Strategies. Which now begs the question of whether Reed was in any way involved with Microsoft's recent decision to abandon its decades long support for gay civil rights in order to curry favor with anti-gay bigots of the radical right.

Interestingly, Microsoft had Reed on retainer during the presidential election of 2000 to apparently help lobby then-candidate Bush on their anti-trust suit (he was actually first hired in the fall of 1998). The contract was terminated after Reed was criticized for a conflict of interest - Reed was working on Bush's campaign. The question arises when Microsoft and Reed revived their work relationship (most observers I've spoken to thought the contract ended five years ago), and what exactly Reed is working on now that the anti-trust issue is over.

Now, just think a minute. Microsoft finds itself under criticism from the local evangelical leader, religious right shareholders, bigoted employees and who knows who else. They don't know what to do. Who do they turn to? Well, if I'm in a religious right pickle, I'd turn to my $20,000 a month retainered religious right consultant, the former leader of the religious right, Ralph Reed.

You can find copies of these invoices there:
- Six months of payments to Ralph Reed's Century Strategies.
- Detailed April invoice for $20,000 to Century Strategies.

Massive inarticulate rage and screaming!!! !@$%% /?*&8$=) Microsoft (*&^%$#@ @#&%+:?2#* Gates!!! And that's the part of my response that's printable......

Monday, April 25, 2005

#5 in a continuing series: The True Face of Compassionate Conservatism

from the London Observer via dadahead: Pope 'obstructed' sex abuse inquiry

Pope Benedict XVI faced claims last night he had 'obstructed justice' after it emerged he issued an order ensuring the church's investigations into child sex abuse claims be carried out in secret.

The order was made in a confidential letter, obtained by The Observer, which was sent to every Catholic bishop in May 2001.

It asserted the church's right to hold its inquiries behind closed doors and keep the evidence confidential for up to 10 years after the victims reached adulthood. The letter was signed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who was elected as John Paul II's successor last week.

Lawyers acting for abuse victims claim it was designed to prevent the allegations from becoming public knowledge or being investigated by the police. They accuse Ratzinger of committing a 'clear obstruction of justice'.

The letter, 'concerning very grave sins', was sent from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican office that once presided over the Inquisition and was overseen by Ratzinger.

It spells out to bishops the church's position on a number of matters ranging from celebrating the eucharist with a non-Catholic to sexual abuse by a cleric 'with a minor below the age of 18 years'. Ratzinger's letter states that the church can claim jurisdiction in cases where abuse has been 'perpetrated with a minor by a cleric'.

The letter states that the church's jurisdiction 'begins to run from the day when the minor has completed the 18th year of age' and lasts for 10 years.

It orders that 'preliminary investigations' into any claims of abuse should be sent to Ratzinger's office, which has the option of referring them back to private tribunals in which the 'functions of judge, promoter of justice, notary and legal representative can validly be performed for these cases only by priests'.

'Cases of this kind are subject to the pontifical secret,' Ratzinger's letter concludes. Breaching the pontifical secret at any time while the 10-year jurisdiction order is operating carries penalties, including the threat of excommunication.

The letter is referred to in documents relating to a lawsuit filed earlier this year against a church in Texas and Ratzinger on behalf of two alleged abuse victims. By sending the letter, lawyers acting for the alleged victims claim the cardinal conspired to obstruct justice.

Daniel Shea, the lawyer for the two alleged victims who discovered the letter, said: 'It speaks for itself. You have to ask: why do you not start the clock ticking until the kid turns 18? It's an obstruction of justice.'

Father John Beal, professor of canon law at the Catholic University of America, gave an oral deposition under oath on 8 April last year in which he admitted to Shea that the letter extended the church's jurisdiction and control over sexual assault crimes.

The Ratzinger letter was co-signed by Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone who gave an interview two years ago in which he hinted at the church's opposition to allowing outside agencies to investigate abuse claims.

'In my opinion, the demand that a bishop be obligated to contact the police in order to denounce a priest who has admitted the offence of paedophilia is unfounded,' Bertone said.

Shea criticised the order that abuse allegations should be investigated only in secret tribunals. 'They are imposing procedures and secrecy on these cases. If law enforcement agencies find out about the case, they can deal with it. But you can't investigate a case if you never find out about it. If you can manage to keep it secret for 18 years plus 10 the priest will get away with it,' Shea added.

A spokeswoman in the Vatican press office declined to comment when told about the contents of the letter. 'This is not a public document, so we would not talk about it,' she said.

It just gets more and more disgusting, doesn't it folks? The pederast shielding power mad old Rat sincerely believes he is ghod's Vicar, the voice of ultimate morality. I don't know who is more pathetic. Is it Pope Rat so clearly full of lies, power hunger, and hatred? Or is it the millions of Catholics who must listen to whatever swill emerges from his mouth and then try to build workable lives from his teachings.

It is to weep.
from the Independent via dadahead: Pope 'ignored sex abuse claim against John Paul's friend'

Pope Benedict XVI has been accused of ignoring for seven years charges that Fr Marcial Maciel, the founder of the Legionaries of Christ, had sexually abused nine teenagers in his organisation - because Fr Maciel was a close friend of Pope John Paul II.

In 1997 the then Cardinal Ratzinger was prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican body which has the power to excommunicate priests guilty of sexual abuse, when Bishop John R McCann of New York forwarded him detailed charges of sexual abuse made by Fr Juan Vaca, a priest in Bishop McCann's diocese. The charges were in the form of a 12-page letter to Fr Marcial Maciel Degollado, who founded the Legionaries of Christ, a conservative Catholic evangelical order, in Mexico in 1941.

"Everything you did contradicts the beliefs of the Church and the order," Fr Vaca wrote in his open letter. "How many innumerable times did you wake me in the middle of the night and had me with you, abusing my innocence. Nights of fear, so many nights of absolute fear: so many nights of lost sleep, that on more than one occasion placed my own psychological health in jeopardy."

Fr Vaca was one of nine former members of Legionaries of Christ who charged Fr Maciel with having sexually abused them when they were teenage seminarians in the order in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. The accusers included three professors, a teacher, a lawyer and an engineer as well as the priest.

Another priest and former member of the Legionaries, Juan Manuel Fernandez Armenabar, made a deathbed declaration denouncing Fr Maciel's sexual abuse. But despite the gravity of the charges, Cardinal Ratzinger took no action. The Vatican confirmed that it had received Fr Vaca's letter, but nothing more was said.

When Cardinal Ratzinger was asked about the accusations he brushed the questions aside. On one occasion he literally slapped the wrist of an American television reporter, Brian Ross, who had the temerity to raise the issue. On another occasion Cardinal Ratzinger said: "One can't put on trial such a close friend of the Pope's as Marcial Maciel."

Such an indulgent attitude to the alleged homosexual crimes of a senior priest - who had been appointed grand chancellor of Regina Apostolorum, a new, richly endowed pontifical college on the outskirts of Rome - contrasts with Pope Benedict's attitude to the Church's admitted homosexuals. Cardinal Ratzinger was relentless in his condemnation of liberal clerics who offered outreach to Catholic homosexuals or tried to moderate the harshness of the Church's view of a sexual proclivity that Cardinal Ratzinger defined as "an intrinsic moral evil". He banned practising homosexuals from receiving Mass and halted stealthy efforts by gays within the Church to change church teaching.

In December last year, seven years after the charges were filed against Fr Maciel, the Vatican announced that it would investigate them. A month later, Fr Maciel stepped down as leader of the Legionaries of Christ.

This week the spokesman for the eight men still alive said he thought the Church's change of heart was a way for Cardinal Ratzinger to improve his chances of becoming Pope. Jose Barba, a professor of Latin America studies, told Reuters in Mexico: "It would have been very embarrassing for the cardinal to turn up at the conclave with the reputation of someone who had covered up a scandal."

Professor Barba added: "Was Cardinal Ratzinger totally and solely responsible [for the failure to investigate]? I think that to a great extent he was because it was his department."

Fr Maciel denies all the claims. Three years ago he said on his website that he "never engaged in the sort of repulsive behaviour these men accuse me of".'

The evidence keeps mounting against the possibility of Pope Rat possessing a shred of Christian morality. But hey, maybe the Church got the Pope they deserve, ghod does have a sense of humor, after all.
Poem of the Day

I Knew a Woman by Theodore Roethke

I knew a woman, lovely in her bones,
When small birds sighed, she would sigh back at them;
Ah, when she moved, she moved more ways than one:
The shapes a bright container can contain!
Of her choice virtues only gods should speak,
Or English poets who grew up on Greek
(I'd have them sing in chorus, cheek to cheek.)

How well her wishes went! She stroked my chin,
She taught me Turn, and Counter-turn, and stand;
She taught me Touch, that undulant white skin:
I nibbled meekly from her proffered hand;
She was the sickle; I, poor I, the rake,
Coming behind her for her pretty sake
(But what prodigious mowing did we make.)

Love likes a gander, and adores a goose:
Her full lips pursed, the errant note to seize;
She played it quick, she played it light and loose;
My eyes, they dazzled at her flowing knees;
Her several parts could keep a pure repose,
Or one hip quiver with a mobile nose
(She moved in circles, and those circles moved.)

Let seed be grass, and grass turn into hay:
I'm martyr to a motion not my own;
What's freedom for? To know eternity.
I swear she cast a shadow white as stone.
But who would count eternity in days?
These old bones live to learn her wanton ways:
(I measure time by how a body sways.)

Collected Poems of Theodore Roethke
Collected Poems of Theodore Roethke

Sunday, April 24, 2005

via Boing_Boing: Insect photos in naturalistic macro-focus

Rick Lieder is one of the best science fiction and fantasy artists in the field today (he's also the husband of fantastic splatterpunk-turned-young-adult-author Kathe Koja), but he got his start as a photographer. He's returned to his roots, and has taken his camera to his Michigan backyard to shoot intense, macro-focused pictures of insects walking on leaves and twigs, using natural light, without a tripod. These shots were compiled over two and a half years by Rick, who crouches patiently and silently in his garden, waiting for the insects to strike the perfect pose before he hits the shutter. I spent half an hour today looking at printouts of these and giving out involuntary exclamations of surprise and delight. Link

Wow! And Wow! And Wow Again! Great sensawunda stuff.
from the BBC via arsepoetica: Venezuela celebrates Quixote book

The Venezuelan government has printed one million free copies of Don Quixote to mark the book's 400th anniversary.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez urged everyone to read Miguel de Cervantes' Spanish classic.

He called on everyone to "feed ourselves once again with that spirit of a fighter who went out to undo injustices and fix the world".

"To some extent, we are followers of Quixote," he told viewers of his Hello President TV show.

The Venezuelan edition contains a prologue written by Portuguese Nobel literature laureate Jose Saramago.

The free copies will be handed out in public squares this weekend, said Mr Chavez.

Don Quixote is celebrated around the world

Don Quixote of La Mancha is the second most published book in the world, after the Bible.

It tells of the adventures of a mad knight and his faithful sidekick, Sancho Panza, with the original running to 1,000 pages in archaic Spanish.

Don Quixote recently beat the likes of Shakespeare and Tolstoy to be named the best work of fiction in a survey of leading writers from across the world.

Spain has been leading the celebrations of one of its most famous books, with new editions printed along with readings and seminars.

Ahh, yes, very clever. Fiendishly clever in fact. Instead of Mao's Little Red Book or Marx's Das Kapital, Chavez must be using Don Quixote to indoctrinate his people into following the road to totalitarianism. Deuced intelligent of him to use a book that there is no possibility that Our Dear Leader has read, even in the Classic Comics edition.

Don Quixote: A New Translation by Edith Grossman
Don Quixote

from Big Brass Blog: Microsoft tosses gays overboard

L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center asked Microsoft to give back its civil rights award. "Because of Microsoft's apparent capitulation to the demands of anti-gay extremists and withdrawal of support for a bill that would do nothing more than protect gay and lesbian people from discrimination, we believe it's no longer worthy of our highest corporate honor" -- Darrel Cummings, chief of staff for the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center.

Microsoft tosses gays overboard by withdrawing support for an anti-discrimination bill in Washington state. It would have banned discrimination against gays and lesbians in housing, employment and insurance -- and it failed by one vote Thursday in the state Senate. "We have exposed bigotry and prejudice," said Rep. Ed Murray, an openly gay Democrat from Seattle. "We didn't win today, but we will win."

AMERICABlog has had extensive coverage of the damnable behavior by the $30 billion + company, which you should read. Blend posts are here, here, here, and here. Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's CEO, released a lame email to attempt some butt-covering, but it's pathetically bad: "Ballmer said that personally, both be and Chairman Bill Gates supported the gay-rights bill. "But that is my personal view, and I also know that many employees and shareholders would not agree with me." he wrote.

Pam Spaulding says it all so much better than I would. Read it. And start planning now about switching to Linux or buying a Mac in the near future. And when you do, let these cretins know just how much business they've given away out of pure gutless caving in to bigotry.
from Pharyngula via American Street: Cafe Scientifique

Cafe Scientifique is a place where, for the price of a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, anyone can come to explore the latest ideas in science and technology. Meetings have taken place in cafes, bars, restaurants and even theatres, but always outside a traditional academic context.

Cafe Scientifique is a forum for debating science issues, not a shop window for science. We are committed to promoting public engagement with science and to making science accountable.

This looks way cool. What a great idea, letting folks experience the wonder of science in a setting away from the academy. I know I'm going to be going to the one here in State College when presentations resume Fall Semester 2005. The venue is the Penn State Downtown Theatre Center on Allen Street, Wednesdays from noon to one.
Poem of the Day

Sick by Shel Silverstein

'I cannot go to school today,'
Said little Peggy Ann McKay.
'I have the measles and the mumps,
A gash, a rash and purple bumps.
My mouth is wet, my throat is dry,
I'm going blind in my right eye.
My tonsils are as big as rocks,
I've counted sixteen chicken pox
And there's one more--that's seventeen,
And don't you think my face looks green?
My leg is cut--my eyes are blue--
It might be instamatic flu.
I cough and sneeze and gasp and choke,
I'm sure that my left leg is broke--
My hip hurts when I move my chin,
My belly button's caving in,
My back is wrenched, my ankle's sprained,
My 'pendix pains each time it rains.
My nose is cold, my toes are numb.
I have a sliver in my thumb.
My neck is stiff, my voice is weak,
I hardly whisper when I speak.
My tongue is filling up my mouth,
I think my hair is falling out.
My elbow's bent, my spine ain't straight,
My temperature is one-o-eight.
My brain is shrunk, I cannot hear,
There is a hole inside my ear.
I have a hangnail, and my heart is--what?
What's that? What's that you say?
You say today is. . .Saturday?
G'bye, I'm going out to play

Where the Sidewalk Ends: 30th Anniversary Special Edition
Where the Sidewalk Ends: 30th Anniversary Special Edition

4th in a series: The True Face of Compassionate Conservatism

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Poem of the Day

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot

S’io credesse che mia risposta fosse
A persona che mai tornasse al mondo,
Questa fiamma staria senza piu scosse.
Ma perciocche giammai di questo fondo
Non torno vivo alcun, s’i’odo il vero,
Senza tema d’infamia ti rispondo.

LET us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherised upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question …
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,
And seeing that it was a soft October night,
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
Rubbing its back upon the window-panes;
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair—
[They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”]
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin—
[They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”]
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

For I have known them all already, known them all:—
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how should I presume?

And I have known the eyes already, known them all—
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?
And how should I presume?

And I have known the arms already, known them all—
Arms that are braceleted and white and bare
[But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!]
It is perfume from a dress
That makes me so digress?
Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.
And should I then presume?
And how should I begin?
. . . . .
Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets
And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows?…

I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.
. . . . .
And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!
Smoothed by long fingers,
Asleep … tired … or it malingers,
Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?
But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
Though I have seen my head [grown slightly bald] brought in upon a platter,
I am no prophet—and here’s no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid.

And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
Would it have been worth while,
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it toward some overwhelming question,
To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”—
If one, settling a pillow by her head,
Should say: “That is not what I meant at all.
That is not it, at all.”

And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor—
And this, and so much more?—
It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:
Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:
“That is not it at all,
That is not what I meant, at all.”
. . . . .
No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.

I grow old … I grow old …
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

Collected Poems, 1909-1962
Collected Poems, 1909-1962

Friday, April 22, 2005

from Logos: Hans Kung - Reaction to the Election of Ratzinger

The Result of the Papal Election by Hans Kung

The election of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as Pope comes as an enormous disappointment for all those who hoped for a reformist and pastoral Pope.

But we must wait and see, for experience shows that the role of the Papacy in the Catholic Church today is so challenging that it can change anyone. Someone who enters the conclave a progressive cardinal can emerge as a conservative (such as Montini – Pope Paul VI), and someone who enters the conclave a conservative cardinal can, indeed, emerge as a progressive (Roncalli – Pope John XXIII).

We should note that the first signals of the present Papacy will be important:

1. The nominations to the most important offices in the Curia, above all the Cardinal Secretary of State and the Head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith.

2. The inaugural address, which will indicate the program.

3. The first encyclical, which will mark the way forward.

4. The first decisions about the organization of the Curia and further statements on questions of doctrine, morals and discipline.

The name Benedict XVI leaves open the possibility for a more moderate policy. Let us therefore give him a chance; as with any President of the United States, we should allow a new Pope 100 days to learn. At every turn he faces tremendous tasks which have been piling up for a long time and which were not tackled by his predecessor:

– the active advancement of ecumenical relations between the Christian churches;

– the realization of the collegiality of the Pope with the bishops and the decentralization of church leadership, which is desired on all sides, in favor of a greater autonomy of the local churches;

– the guarantee of an equal footing for men and women in the church and the implementation of the full participation of women at all levels of the church.

Hans Kung is President of the Global Ethic Foundation and was named a theological consultant for the Second Vatican Council by Pope John XXIII and played a major role in the writing of the documents of Vatican II

Well, Hans Kung continues to amaze me. Had I been treated as badly by Pope Rat as Prof. Kung has been, I'd be foaming at the mouth in anger at this election. He is a man of true Christian temperment. In that remote alternate world where justice reigns, Hans Kung is now the new Pope.
Poem of the Day

Errata By Charles Simic

Where it says snow
read teeth-marks of a virgin
Where it says knife read
you passed through my bones
like a police-whistle
Where it says table read horse
Where it says horse read my migrant's bundle
Apples are to remain apples
Each time a hat appears
think of Isaac Newton
reading the Old Testament
Remove all periods
They are scars made by words
I couldn't bring myself to say
Put a finger over each sunrise
it will blind you otherwise
That damn ant is still stirring
Will there be time left to list
all errors to replace
all hands guns owls plates
all cigars ponds woods and reach
that beer-bottle my greatest mistake
the word I allowed to be written
when I should have shouted
her name

The Voice at 3 A.M.
The Voice at 3 A.M.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Poem of the Day

The Whistle by Yusef Komunyakaa


The seven o'clock whistle
Made the morning air fulvous
With a metallic syncopation,
A key to a door in the sky---opening
& closing flesh. The melody
Men & women built lives around,
Sonorous as the queen bee's fat
Hum drawing workers from flowers,
Back to the colonized heart.
A titanous puff of steam rose
From the dragon trapped below
Iron, bricks, & wood.
The whole black machine
Shuddered: blue jays & redbirds
Wove light through leaves
& something dead under the foundation
Brought worms to life.
Men capped their thermoses,
Switched off Loretta Lynn,
& slid from trucks & cars.
The rip saws throttled
& swung out over logs
On conveyer belts.
Daddy lifted the tongs
To his right shoulder . . . a winch
Uncoiled the steel cable
From its oily scrotum;
He waved to the winchman
& iron teeth bit into the pine.
Yellow forklifts darted
With lumber to boxcars
Marked for distant cities.
At noon, Daddy would walk
Across the field of goldenrod
& mustard weeds, the pollen
Bright & sullen on his overalls.
He'd eat on our screened-in
Back porch---red beans & rice
With hamhocks & cornbread.
Lemonade & peach Jello.

The one o'clock bleat
Burned sweat & salt into afternoon
& the wheels within wheels
Unlocked again, pulling rough boards
Into the plane's pneumatic grip.
Wild geese moved like a wedge
Between sky & sagebrush,
As Daddy pulled the cable
To the edge of the millpond
& sleepwalked cypress logs.
The day turned on its axle
& pyramids of russet sawdust
Formed under corrugated
Blowpipes fifty feet high.
The five o'clock whistle
Bellowed like a bull, controlling
Clocks on kitchen walls;
Women dabbed loud perfume
Behind their ears & set tables
Covered with flowered oilcloth.


When my father was kicked by the foreman,
He booted him back,
& his dreams slouched into an aftershock
Of dark women whispering
To each other. Like petals of a black rose
In one of Busby Berkeley's
Oscillating dances in a broken room. Shadows,
Runagates & Marys.
The steel-gray evening was a canvas
Zigzagged with questions
Curling up from smokestacks, as dusky birds
Brushed blues into a montage
Traced back to L'Amistad & the psychosis
Behind Birth of a Nation.
With eyes against glass & ears to diaphanous doors,
I heard a cornered prayer.

Car lights rubbed against our windows,
Ravenous as snow wolves.
A brick fell into the livingroom like a black body,
& a riot of drunk curses
Left the gladioli & zinnias
Maimed. Double dares
Took root in night soil.
The whistle boiled
Gutbucket underneath silence
& burned with wrath.
But by then Daddy was with Uncle James
Outside The Crossroad,
Their calloused fingers caressing the .38
On the seat of the pickup;
Maybe it was the pine-scented moonglow
That made him look so young
& faceless, wearing his mother's powder blue
Sunday dress & veiled hat.

Pleasure Dome: New and Collected Poems
Pleasure Dome: New and Collected Poems

from The Village Voice via Daily Kos: Of Boiling Men Alive In Our Name

One of the CIA's jet planes used to render purported terrorists to other countries--where information is extracted by any means necessary--made 10 trips to Uzbekistan. In a segment of CBS's 60 Minutes on these CIA torture missions (March 5), former British ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray told of the range of advanced techniques used by Uzbek interrogators:

"drowning and suffocation, rape was used . . . and also immersion of limbs in boiling liquid."

But it was much more than mere limb immersion.

Two nights later on ABC's World News Tonight, Craig Murray told of photos he received of an Uzbek interrogation that ended with the prisoner actually being boiled to death!

Murray, appalled, had protested to the British Foreign Office in a confidential memorandum leaked to and printed in the Financial Times on October 11 of last year:

"Uzbek officials are torturing prisoners to extract information [about reported terrorist operations], which is supplied to the U.S. and passed through its Central Intelligence Agency to the U.K., says Mr. Murray." (Emphasis added.)

Prime Minister Tony Blair quickly reacted to this undiplomatic whistle-blowing.

Craig Murray was removed as ambassador to Uzbekistan.

Recondite shit eating country destroying NeoCon bastards DID THIS IN MY NAME.

I've joked in the past about wanting to see BushCo dragged from the White House in chains, but now it is imperative that we see that THESE TWISTED MORAL DEGENERATES PAY! Torturer in Chief Bush has to go to jail for life for this, as does his sleezeball puppetmaster Cheney and that immoral little ratfucker Rumsfeld. Bring on the World Court.

I am so utterly ashamed to be an American at this moment.

I'm going to Europe on business in 3 months and I can see now that I'm going to be spending my entire time there explaining how this was not my fault, that I didn't vote for this cabal of death dealing ghouls.

Dear ghod in wherever, what have we done?
via deconsumption: Global Consciousness Project -- consciousness, group consciousness, mind

Global Correlations in Random Data

The Global Consciousness Project, also called the EGG Project, is an international and multidisciplinary collaboration of scientists, engineers, artists and others. This website introduces methods and technology and empirical results in one section, and presents interpretations and applications in another.

We have been collecting data from a global network of random event generators since August, 1998. The network has grown to about 65 host sites around the world running custom software that reads the output of physical random number generators and records a 200-bit trial sum once every second, continuously over months and years. The data are transmitted over the internet to a server in Princeton, NJ, USA, where they are archived for later analysis.

The purpose of this project is to examine subtle correlations that appear to to reflect the presence and activity of consciousness in the world. The scientific work is careful, but it is at the margins of our understanding. We believe our view may be enriched by a creative and poetic perspective. Here we present various aspects of the project, including some insight into its scientific and philosophical implications.

Now, I'm not one to cast aspersions(HAH!), but what in the name of Aunt Hypatia's Cauliflower Compote are a bunch of allegedly sane information scientists at an supposedly top flight university doing messing about with something as new age wonky as this magilla? I can't make head, tail nor shadow of this one folks. Trez weird-ass!

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Poem of the Day
the green waters of stillness
an excerpt from the poem "to shout in the ruins"
by Louis Aragon

Let's spit the two of us let's spit
On what we loved
On what we loved the two of us
Yes because this poem the two of us
Is a waltz tune and I imagine
What is dark and incomparable passing between us
Like a dialogue of mirrors abandoned
In a baggage-claim somewhere say Foligno
Or Bourboule in the Auvergne
Certain names are charged with a distant thunder
Yes let's spit the two of us on these immense landscapes
Where little rented cars cruise by
Yes because something must still
Some thing
Reconcile us yes let's spit
The two of us it's a waltz
A kinf of convenient sob
Let's spit let's spit tiny automobiles
Let's spit that's an order
A waltz of mirrors
A dialogue in the void
Listen to these immense landscapes where the wind
Cries over what we loved
One of them is a horse leaning its elbow on the earth
The other a deadman shaking out linen the other
The trail of your footprints I remember a deserted village
On the shoulder of a scorched mountain
I remember your shoulder
I remember your elbow your linen your footprints
I remember a town where there was no horse
I remember your look which scorched
My deserted heart a dead Mazeppa whom a horse
Carries away like that day on the mountain
Drunkenness sped my run through the martyred oaks
Which bled prophetically while day
Light fell mute over the blue trucks
I remember so many things
So many evenings rooms walks rages
So many stops in worthless places
Where in spite of everything the spirit of mystery rose up
Like the cry of a blind child in a remote train depot

The Random House Book Of 20th Century French Poetry
The Random House Book Of 20th Century French Poetry

#3 in a Continuing Series The True Face of Compassionate Conservatism
via The Map Room: Green Map System Home

Green Map System is a global eco-cultural movement, energized by local knowledge, action and responsibility.

Green Maps are locally created maps that chart the natural and cultural environment. Using adaptable tools and a shared visual language of Green Map Icons to highlight green living resources, Green Maps cultivate citizen participation and community sustainability.
from BBC NEWS: Review: Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

By Darren Waters
BBC News entertainment reporter

Don't panic - The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is not as bad as I had feared. Then again, it is not as good as I had hoped.

Stuck in development hell for the best part of 26 years, Douglas Adams' book has finally reached the big screen - four years after the author's death.

Adams' deceptively complex novels are crammed full of witty erudition, great gags and lengthy digressions, so it was always going to be a struggle to turn it into a neatly packaged two-hour movie. (more)
Separated At Birth?

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

from ABC News: German Cardinal Becomes Pope Benedict XVI:

Joseph Ratzinger, a Hard-Line German Cardinal, Is Elected Pope and Takes the Name Benedict XVI

By VICTOR L. SIMPSON Associated Press Writer

VATICAN CITY Apr 19, 2005 — With unusual speed and little surprise, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany became Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday, a 78-year-old transitional leader who promises to enforce strictly conservative policies for the world's Roman Catholics.

Appearing on St. Peter's Basilica balcony as dusk fell, a red cape over his new white robes, the white-haired Ratzinger called himself 'a simple, humble worker.' The crowd responded to the 265th pope by waving flags and chanting 'Benedict! Benedict!'

From Notre Dame in Paris to the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City, cathedral bells tolled and prayers were offered. Millions watched live television broadcasts of St. Peter's bells pealing at 6:04 p.m. and white smoke pouring from the Sistine Chapel's chimney signs a successor to John Paul II had been chosen.
Poem of the Day

Hay for the Horses by Gary Snyder

He had driven half the night
From far down San Joaquin
Through Mariposa, up the
Dangerous Mountain roads,
And pulled in at eight a.m.
With his big truckload of hay
behind the barn.
With winch and ropes and hooks
We stacked the bales up clean
To splintery redwood rafters
High in the dark, flecks of alfalfa
Whirling through shingle-cracks of light,
Itch of haydust in the
sweaty shirt and shoes.
At lunchtime under Black oak
Out in the hot corral,
---The old mare nosing lunchpails,
Grasshoppers crackling in the weeds---
'I'm sixty-eight' he said,
'I first bucked hay when I was seventeen.
I thought, that day I started,
I sure would hate to do this all my life.
And dammit, that's just what
I've gone and done.

The Gary Snyder Reader: Prose, Poetry, and Translations, 1952-1998

from Day 2: The latest odds on who will be the next Pope

Francis Arinze (Nigeria) 7/2
Joseph Ratzinger (Germany) 11/2
Claudio Hummes (Brazil) 7/1
Dionigi Tettamanzi (Italy) 7/1
Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga (Honduras) 9/1
Jean-Marie Lustiger (France) 9/1
Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini (Italy) 12/1
Cardinal Angelo Scola (Venice) 20/1
Cardinal Walter Kasper (Germany) 20/1
Count Christoph von Schoenborn (Austria) 25/1
Jorge Mario Bergoglio (Argentina) 25/1
Jose Da Cruz Policarpo (Portugal) 25/1
Cardianl Ruini (Italy) 33/1
Cardinal Amigo Vallejo (Spain) 33/1
Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa (Chile) 33/1
Giovanni Battista Re (Italy) 33/1
Ivan Dias (India) 33/1
Keith O Brien (Scotland) 33/1

Monday, April 18, 2005

via The Sun: Latest from Papal Election Conclave

Tonight, black smoke started wafting from the chimney indicating that the first round of voting failed to elect a new pontiff.

The cardinals will now retire for the night and return tomorrow morning for two more rounds of balloting.
from paddypower: End of Day 1: The latest odds on who will be the next Pope

Francis Arinze (Nigeria) 3/1
Jean-Marie Lustiger (France) 11/2
Joseph Ratzinger (Germany) 11/2
Dionigi Tettamanzi (Italy) 7/1
Claudio Hummes (Brazil) 8/1
Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini (Italy) 9/1
Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga (Honduras) 12/1
Cardianl Ruini (Italy) 20/1
Cardinal Angelo Scola (Venice) 20/1
Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa (Chile) 20/1
Cardinal Walter Kasper (Germany) 20/1
Jose Da Cruz Policarpo (Portugal) 20/1
Count Christoph von Schoenborn (Austria) 25/1
Jorge Mario Bergoglio (Argentina) 25/1
Keith O Brien (Scotland) 25/1
Angelo Sodano (Italy) 33/1
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone (Italy) 33/1
Giovanni Battista Re (Italy) 33/1
Ivan Dias (India) 33/1
Poem of the Day

Meeting the Gaze of the Great Horned Owl by Robin Becker

As if coming from a distant room
in the woods
the owl burst down,
flung himself like a skydiver and hovered
above me. I covered my face with my arms and ran
towards him -- strange -- because
I was afraid.

I had disturbed the quiet
of the feathered god
who rested now, overhead, in a dead tree
where jays and flickers pecked and cried.
The owl acknowledged each note, each tiny, colored movement
by twisting, on its calm trivet, his troubled head,
the dappled body perfectly still,

and I admit that I wanted
the creature's attention, to compete
with the smaller birds,
so I made my human noises and the owl attended,
turned his brown, comprehending eyes
down to me and met my stare.
I moved my arms -- slowly -- in an awkward imitation

of flight,
pawing the air like an animal awakened abruptly
or just beginning
to know the power of her wings.
I held the owl's gaze as I swayed
and wondered what he saw:
something large straining to rise

and failing. I thought of my younger sister, dead
by her own hand, and I wanted her back, to show her,
as I never did in life,
how fear and longing sometimes go together,
how one small percussive surprise
in the trees can turn you
from one self to another, this one with wings.

All-American Girl
All-American Girl

from The latest odds on who will be the next Pope:

Francis Arinze (Nigeria) 3/1
Jean-Marie Lustiger (France) 5/1
Joseph Ratzinger (Germany) 5/1
Dionigi Tettamanzi (Italy) 7/1
Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini (Italy) 8/1
Claudio Hummes (Brazil) 8/1
Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga (Honduras) 12/1
Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa (Chile) 14/1
Cardianl Ruini (Italy) 20/1
Cardinal Angelo Scola (Venice) 20/1
Jose Da Cruz Policarpo (Portugal) 20/1
Keith O Brien (Scotland) 20/1
Angelo Sodano (Italy) 25/1
Count Christoph von Schoenborn (Austria) 25/1
Jorge Mario Bergoglio (Argentina) 25/1
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone (Italy) 33/1
Cardinal Walter Kasper (Germany) 33/1
Giovanni Battista Re (Italy) 33/1
Ivan Dias (India) 33/1

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Poem of the Day

Bob's Coney Island by Sherman Alexie

Let's begin with this: America.
I want it all back
now, acre by acre, tonight. I want
some Indian to finally learn
to dance the Ghost Dance right
so that all of the salmon and buffalo return
and the white men are sent back home
to wake up in their favorite European cities.

I am not cruel.

Still, I hesitate
when Bob walks us around his Coney Island:
the Cyclone still running
the skeleton of the Thunderbolt
the Freak Show just a wall of photographs
the Parachute Drop
which has not been used in 30 years
but still looks like we could
tie a few ropes to the top (Why the hell not?) and drop
quickly down, spinning, unravelling
watching Bob's Coney Island rise
from the ashes of the sad, old carnival
that has taken its place now, this carnival
that is so sad because, like Diane says

all carnivals are sad.

We drop to the ground, our knees buckle slightly
at impact. We turn to look at each other
with the kind of love and wonder
that only fear and the release of fear can create.
We climb to the top and parachute down
again and again, because there is an ocean
a few feet away, because Manhattan is just a moment
down the horizon, because there was a 13-year-old boy
who believed that Coney Island belonged to him
though we know that all we see
doesn't really belong to anyone

but I'll let Bob have a conditional lease
because I know finally
somebody will take care of this place
even if just in memory.

Business of Fancydancing: Stories and Poems
Business of Fancydancing: Stories and Poems

Saturday, April 16, 2005

from The latest odds on who will be the next Pope
Joseph Ratzinger (Germany) 3/1
Jean-Marie Lustiger (France) 9/2
Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini (Italy) 5/1
Dionigi Tettamanzi (Italy) 7/1
Claudio Hummes (Brazil) 8/1
Francis Arinze (Nigeria) 8/1
Angelo Sodano (Italy) 10/1
Jorge Mario Bergoglio (Argentina) 12/1
Jose Da Cruz Policarpo (Portugal) 12/1
Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa (Chile) 14/1
Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga (Honduras) 16/1
Cardianl Ruini (Italy) 20/1
Keith O Brien (Scotland) 20/1
Cardinal Angelo Scola (Venice) 33/1
Count Christoph von Schoenborn (Austria) 33/1
Giovanni Battista Re (Italy) 33/1
Ivan Dias (India) 33/1
Poem of the Day

Mid-term Break by Seamus Heaney

I sat all morning in the college sick bay
Counting bells knelling classes to a close,
At two o'clock our neighbors drove me home.

In the porch I met my father crying--
He had always taken funerals in his stride--
And Big Jim Evans saying it was a hard blow.

The baby cooed and laughed and rocked the pram
When I came in, and I was embarrassed
By old men standing up to shake my hand

And tell me they were 'sorry for my trouble,'
Whispers informed strangers I was the eldest,
Away at school, as my mother held my hand

In hers and coughed out angry tearless sighs.
At ten o'clock the ambulance arrived
With the corpse, stanched and bandaged by the nurses.

Next morning I went up into the room. Snowdrops
And candles soothed the bedside; I saw him
For the first time in six weeks. Paler now,

Wearing a poppy bruise on the left temple,
He lay in the four foot box as in a cot.
No gaudy scars, the bumper knocked him clear.

A four foot box, a foot for every year.

Opened Ground: Selected Poems, 1966-1996
Opened Ground: Selected Poems, 1966-1996

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Poem of the Day

The Yellow House on the Corner by Rita Dove

Shape the lips to an o, say a. That's island.

One word of Swedish has changed the whole neighborhood.
When I look up, the yellow house on the corner
is a galleon stranded in flowers. Around it

the wind. Even the high roar of a leaf-mulcher
could be the horn blast from a ship
as it skirts the misted shoals.

We don't need much more to keep things going.
Families complete themselves
and refuse to budge from the present,
the present extends its glass forehead to sea
(backyard breezes, scattered cardinals)

and if, one evening, the house on the corner
took off over the marshland,
neither I nor my neighbor
would be amazed. Sometimes

a word is found so right it trembles
at the slightest explanation.
You start out with one thing, end
up with another, and nothing's
like it used to be, not even the future.

Selected Poems
Selected Poems